We think an IT support technician is likely someone young, geeky, and wearing pants. But this is far from the truth at RSVP Singapore.
Grace Ng is 60 years old, bubbly, and was a housewife for 25 years. She is also the go-to person for IT solutions at this non-profit that runs computer and smartphone classes for senior citizens.
On most days of the week, Grace is at the organisation setting up its computers and maintaining them for lessons. Because she learned to use IT only later in her life, and understands the frustrations other seniors have in figuring out what “cloud” and “operating systems” are, she is happy to lend seniors the much-needed technical assistance through the organisation’s many programmes.
One example is Silver IT Care, which helps seniors clean up and upgrade their hand-me-down laptops, usually from their children. These laptops usually contain programmes of little use to the seniors and they also slow down the computers.
Grace taught herself how to use a computer even before she owned one. The first desktop computer she ever bought was for her son, who was still schooling then. To manage the boy’s computer usage, she learned to set login passwords.
In 2008, she signed up for a basic computer course at the Silver Infocomm Day, an initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to help seniors develop IT skills. That was how she got to know RSVP, one of the Silver Infocomm Junctions. She subsequently picked up computer maintenance and repair skills and began helping the organisation's Silver IT Care helpdesk; eventually putting what she learned to good use as their volunteer handywoman.
In RSVP’s office at Bishan, Grace tackles computer errors and when the organisation holds classes for new devices, she would be among the first trying to stay connected to the ever-changing digital world. “When I first joined RSVP these technologies were new,” she says. “I came in at the right time to grow my IT knowledge with the organisation.”
The annual Silver Infocomm Day has likewise grown over the years, becoming the Silver IT Fest reaching out to more seniors. Grace has been contributing to the festival by pre-uploading required mobile applications onto the smartphones to be used at the workshops. To help the participants locate the buttons and follow the class easily, she and the other volunteers have to standardise their arrangements in those phones.
As we prepare Singapore for the digital economy, we need to ensure that everyone, including the elderly, continue to contribute meaningfully to society, stay actively connected with their family and the community, and not be left behind in our digital society.
Find out more about the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Silver Infocomm Initiatives here. From Intergen IT Bootcamps to Silver Infocomm Juntions, there’s something for everyone.