I CAN with MYOB – breaking the cycle of disadvantage

Technology is moving at such a fast pace. Digital skills and capabilities enable greater social and economic participation, and many of us take our everyday access to technology for granted.

People who have faced disadvantage, due to factors including age, language and disability, can find themselves locked out of the digital economy.

Being on the wrong side of the digital divide puts the most vulnerable in our community at risk of being further left behind.

MYOB is determined to do something about this.

Together with Infoxchange and the Monarch Institute, MYOB has launched the I CAN with MYOB program – with the aim of  giving people with a wide range of ages, cultural and social backgrounds, and abilities the opportunity to become bookkeepers.

So many of the analytical and digital literacy skills needed to perform the role of a modern bookkeeper are transferrable to a wide range of industries.

“The three partners behind I CAN with MYOB share a vision to provide employment, learning and business opportunities to those facing disadvantage in our society,” Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs said.

“This program aims to bridge the technology divide that further compounds this disadvantage.”

One of the initial participants in the program is Alem Kiffle, who came to Australia from the African nation of Eritrea at the end of 2014 seeking political asylum.

She initially travelled with her youngest son, with her eldest joining her later.

Her English language skills (she speaks her native Tigrinya) have held her back from employment, with her eldest son having to clean between classes at community college to support the family.

“It [Australia] was a new place and everything is harder, especially if you can’t speak the language. Until now I wasn’t happy because I can’t speak English well, so it’s difficult for everything,” said Alem.

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But despite a gap in English language skills and a physical ailment holding her back, she was determined to find training and work.

Through her case worker, she applied to study pathology, but her language skills held her back.

“Someone gave me the idea because I have physical problems and I can’t do physical work,” said Alem.

“They told me if I take that course then maybe it is easier, so after that I applied but they didn’t accept me because of my English.”

As part of the testing process for the pathology course, her case worker discovered something Alem had struggled to express – she was great at numbers.

“When I did the testing for the pathology course my case worker saw the results and said to me ‘you are great at maths!’,” said Alem.

Her case worker came across the I CAN with MYOB program and thought Alem would be able to apply her skills in maths while improving her English at the same time.

“When she heard about this course, she told me that I could do this,” said Alem.

“I didn’t agree at first, but she said I could do this because my maths is good and my English is improving little by little.”

She said that so far, while the course had been challenging, she felt she had a supportive environment to thrive in.

“I’m very happy to be here. From the first day I came to do the interview I was happy because they welcomed me and encouraged me,” said Alem.

First when I went to the pathology course to do the interview they broke me down, but with this…they build me up. I have support.”

She says she hopes to be able to forge a career to support her family and give back to the community which had accepted her.

Alem is just one of the participants in the program, which is giving people who have suffered disadvantage a chance.

“The I CAN with MYOB program is a really exciting initiative. It opens the doors for people who may not have previously had the chance to pursue a career in this industry,” MYOB Head of Partnerships Simon Dennis said.

“We have people ranging from their mid-twenties right through to their sixties, and from a range of cultural backgrounds.”

The program will run full-time for 12 months. It will give students the digital skills they need, not only to become bookkeepers but to thrive in the digital economy.