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AIS Academy for Thais gathers strength and purpose

Mobile phone giant aims to upgrade Thai society and quality of life with technology and knowledge

Thailand’s biggest mobile-phone network provider, AIS, has further intensified its campaign to prepare Thai people for life after the Covid-19 crisis. 

After recently announcing that it would throw open the doors of its AIS Academy to the public, it has now launched a major project called “AIS Academy for Thais: JUMP THAILAND”, which aims to transfer “key knowledge” to Thai people at a time when they need to re-skill and up-skill for innovations, occupational skills, and self-improvement. 

The project follows a rallying call from AIS to “all stakeholders and industry leaders in all sectors” to join it in a concerted and coordinated drive to “fight for the recovery of the country and create sustainable growth.” 

The company bases its social mission on a simple conviction: “We believe that true growth is not about growing alone. It must be about strengthening Thai society. This is the path to sustainable growth.” 

The launch of the AIS Academy for Thais: JUMP THAILAND Project on October 1 coincided with AIS’s 30th anniversary. It involves collaboration with partners in the government, educational and private sectors to produce an “ultimate learning hub” for Thais as they face the transformation to life after COVID-19. The project also involves a major innovation contest called the Jump Thailand Hackathon, in which technology innovators will compete for financial support and market opportunities. The project offers services to the public in three aspects:

JUMP to Innovation: Jump higher with Thai innovations for the country’s sustainability; 

JUMP over the Challenge: Jump at new challenges on the career paths of individual Thais; and

JUMP with EdTech: Jump for unlimited learning on a digital platform that promises to help Thais transition together into Life after the Crisis. 

To find out more about the AIS Academy for Thais: JUMP THAILAND project, and what it means to members of the Thai public, The Story Thailand interviewed the Chief Human Resources Officer for AIS and Intouch Group, Kantima Lerlertyuttitham. Here is what she told us: 

Q: What are the strengths of AIS Academy for Thais? 

A: This time, AIS Academy for Thais is focused on giving opportunities and knowledge. It now focuses on sharing. Those who are ready to join us in building the future can do so via online seminars. 

The core of AIS Academy for Thais is JUMP THAILAND. We can no longer simply move ahead – or run. Now, we need to jump. And, in doing so, we will encourage others to jump as well. To jump, we need energy and determination. AIS, as a Thai company, is aware of its missions. It is therefore calling on Thais to join it and  JUMP to Innovation, JUMP over the Challenge, and JUMP with EdTech.

JUMP to Innovation has proven challenging to Thais. While innovation is widely talked about, there are few successes on this front because would-be innovators feel like they are all on their own. Some people have a great idea, but no one to support them. Others have friends, but lack capital. AIS has thus decided to reach out to Thais and invite them to develop innovations with our team. We have resources in terms of knowledge, capital and experts to support their ideas.

JUMP over the Challenge underlines the undeniable fact that current economic conditions are affecting all people in general. We weathered the 1997 financial crisis, so we have decided to put the skills of AIS people to good use. These skills are not necessarily related to their jobs alone. We have also recognized cooking skills, craftsmanship, tech knowledge, or any skill that may be used to earn a living. We have decided to share these skills with the unemployed. We will use online channels to teach interested people how to pick up such skills. They can learn without the need for commuting. Moreover, AIS will create opportunities for them to bring their products to markets. 

JUMP with EdTech resonates with educational work in which we have long been engaged. Our educational services are delivered online. Thais have had experience in how to deal with crises, and in every crisis, there are opportunities. In the recent crisis, Thais have grasped learning opportunities. They have learned more and made improvements. They are doing well on this front. Thanks to technologies, online courses can comprehensively cover the needs of Thais. Jump with Edtech is about delivering knowledge to Thais through AIS’s 5G network. 

Q: What is the idea behind the “Jump Thailand Hackathon”? What are your expectations?

A: Today, it is necessary to make moving forward both challenging and fun. Therefore, AIS would like to invite Thais to jump higher with innovations; to transform our country and build a sustainable future. The Jump Thailand contest is being held for this purpose. We want to create a forum in which Thais can brainstorm and invent things that contribute to sustainability. The contest will identify social issues and then use the platforms of AIS and its partners to provide solutions. Participants in the Jump Thailand Hackathon will be able to access AIS technology and work systems such as 5G, AI, Blockchain and Big Data in order to develop their innovations. Moreover, AIS has funds to support the joint development of innovations, and will also grant a cash reward to innovators, who will then have the resources to develop more products and services for Thailand.

Interested people can apply to join the contest via https://jumpthailand.earth. Applications will be accepted until the end of 2020. The applications will then be examined to identify the social issues they seek to confront, and these will then be prioritized. Between five and 10 problems needing the most urgent solutions will be identified. In February 2021, the contest will announce the issues contestants must address. Interested teams then must submit applications before the end of March 2021. In the following month, participating teams must make presentations. We will grant awards to teams whose ideas are translated into actual products or services. If those products or services can really enter the commercial market as an AIS bundle, the teams will become our partners. If they can really invent something to sell alongside AIS products, they will become our partners at the end of the Hackathon.

Q: How much importance has AIS accorded to JUMP over the Challenge, in a bid to equip people with occupational skills? 

A: After the COVID-19 crisis shook all industries and hit the economy hard, various firms closed down and many people become jobless. Their lives have never been the same since. Being aware of their problem, AIS has implemented the Aunjai Volunteers for Occupational Development Project, which aims to empower and give knowledge, abilities, and occupational skills to people outside the company. 

The Aunjai Volunteers brings the knowledge and skills of AIS’s people to the general public, so that Thais can develop means of livelihood. During this crisis, a huge number of people have lost their jobs. We would like to give these people knowledge and skills that will offer them alternatives with regard to job opportunities and career development. For this project, we have partnered with experts from various fields. The project covers knowledge and occupational skills that are much needed in this age. We have added channels for people to access our knowledge database free-of-charge. We have recruited Aunjai volunteers and experts who will share their knowledge and teach how to cook, do online marketing, design packaging, create interesting online content, transform into YouTubers and embrace sufficiency agriculture. 

We have even created online and offline marketplaces for our participants. Their background will be checked prior to participation as the project seeks to eliminate frauds, boost buyers’ confidence and create a sustainable source of income to people. 

People who are interested in the Aunjai Volunteers for Occupational Development can get more details and apply to the project via the Facebook page or YouTube Channel “AIS Academy”.

Q: What is AIS’s position regarding EdTech? 

A: We think that useful knowledge should be available when it is needed. In our opinion, this means that people should get free access to knowledge, around-the-clock. Often, people have simply forgotten what they learnt in class. When the need arises to use that knowledge, they just don’t know what to do. EdTech is making a difference here. With EdTech, you can retrieve what you want to know anytime, anywhere. The AIS Academy initially sprang into operation because of the need to develop AIS personnel only. However, we believe it would be a shame if our customers and people in the Thai society did not have access to the knowledge we hold. Given that we had already invested in developing that knowledge, we decided to invest a bit more to ensure that our knowledge database was available to others. We thought we should expand our platform and content, and as we expanded, we attracted many like-minded organizations. Our partners think that they also should do something for the country’s educational sector. Many of our partners are universities. They have created content in collaboration with AIS to bring their knowledge to target groups or to people who have hitherto been unable to access such content. 

AIS’s strength lies in the fact that we are a capable telecom firm. Our network has comprehensive coverage and so our information is widely available. Now, we would like to call on everyone to jump on our bandwagon. Let’s give educational opportunities and knowledge to ordinary people.   

Today, it is undeniable that every sector in society faces challenges in preparing educational systems. So, we have pursued the goal of distributing knowledge via EdTech so as to give equal educational opportunities and boost the potential of all people. 

If graduates are good, employers in the business sector won’t need to invest much in the development of human resources. Workforces can be mobilized and upgraded rapidly for the sake of companies, society and the nation. When every firm is great, strong partnerships can be forged. In the end, our country – Thailand – will benefit. We do not think about competing against others. We just focus on improving ourselves and competing against ourselves. By doing this, we will keep jumping forward. 

Q: Has the role of the AIS Academy changed? What are its challenges and expectations?

A: We have increased our adaptability to best respond to changing circumstances. There is no need to make the same response all the time; we don’t think that repeating the same steps will always give successful results, given that the social context keeps changing. Existing problems grow complicated, so we need to understand what problems Thai people are facing and what we can do to solve those issues. If we are weak in some aspects, we aim to recruit strong partners so that we can grow together. The biggest challenge is to keep pace with the world. We have to determine what changes we must make and what more we must do. We can’t just stay the same.

We hope Thai society becomes a society of sharing. There is no need to compete against one another all the time. Doing good things should not be competitive in nature. It would be better to do good things together. The returns are not money, but delighted hearts.

Our current challenge is that we are doing something we have never done before. We have, of course, been engaged in educational work and innovations. But this time, we are focused on creating opportunities, jobs and markets. This is a bigger mission. We have thus decided to work with partners in this project. We believe that for a mission of this size, AIS alone may not have the best answer for Thais, so we have chosen to recruit other members of society, including other firms, to join in this mission for the purpose of strengthening Thailand. Our hearts swell with delight every time we say that AIS personnel are Aunjai volunteers. 

Regarding our expectations, AIS is a good member of society and aims to contribute to society. AIS personnel, meanwhile, are going “all out” in the implementation of this project. We will consider it a success even if it helps just four or five people. That is, after all, a good beginning towards more success. If other firms see what AIS is doing and lend a hand, that’s a success for our project too.

This year, AIS celebrates its 30th anniversary, but internally, we have decided to talk about our 30 past years very briefly, because we would like to look ahead. As we step into our 31st year, we recognize that the waves of change in the world are ferocious. At a national level, if every business focuses just on its own interests, like doing corporate social responsibility activities simply for competitive purposes, there will be no serious benefits for the country. If Thailand reaches its limit, there is no chance for Thai businesses to grow further. For Thai firms, the majority of customers are Thais anyway. If we want our firms to keep growing, Thailand and its society must be strong. Undeniably, whenever the country suffers, all businesses are adversely affected. So today, let’s do something good together. Let’s strengthen our country. If our country grows stronger, our businesses can grow as well, with people having greater potential. At the same time, every firm should keep improving itself. If a firm just focuses on helping society without improving itself, it may fall into a difficult situation.

AIS has already braved its way through several challenges. Even as a big firm, we are not successful all the time. Sometimes, mistakes just happen. So we tell our staff that if a project fails, we have to learn from it. We need to change our mindset. We need to understand that it is impossible to make things perfect all the time. Society keeps changing and requires that work be done at a faster speed. In this situation, we need to communicate clearly to our staff that it is okay to fall sometimes. But after every fall, we must stand up and move forward together. Through Aunjai Volunteers for Occupational Development, we are going to share our convictions with outsiders. If you fall now, we will stand by your side and then we can move ahead together. That’s what we believe in. 

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