British consultant warns PHL its BPO workers losing IT skills

In Photo: This May 17 photo shows applicants for a business-process outsourcing (BPO) firm. While Filipinos are considered one of the best workers in the BPO sector, experts in a forum organized by the Pearson London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said an upgrade in the level of skills are needed with the fourth industrial revolution.

FILIPINOS are considered among the best workers in the world, especially in the business-process outsourcing (BPO) sector. But their competitive position is in trouble.

That is, if they can’t need to keep up with the so-called fourth industrial revolution.

According to estimates of the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (ITBPAP), there are about 6 million that will be affected if the country fails to upgrade the level of its “talent”, especially on subjects like higher mathematics.

“The world is evolving. Technology is evolving. The digital organizations as well as artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and the cloud is affecting the way we do things,” Penny Bongato, IT-BPAP executive director, said in a forum. “Most of the things now are in the cloud. If you are an employer and you don’t allow your employees to be socially connected, you will have a problem with engagement.”

IT-BPAP’s Bongato said the lower end of the sales jobs in the BPO sector, is seen to slow down in the coming years. But the mid-skill and high-skill jobs—such as contact-center skills, IT, health informatics, game development, animation and shared services—will double or triple in the next six years, she said.

Revolution is here

ACCORDING to the definition of the World Economic Forum, the fourth industrial revolution is an industrial era marked by a range of new technologies that fuse both the physical and digital worlds.

Based on its 2016 to 2017 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines slipped by 10 notches to 57 out of 138 economies.

The report said the country declined in eight of 12 pillars, which include market efficiency, business sophistication, infrastructure, labor-market efficiency, market size, institutions, as well as innovation and technological readiness.

The country’s Southeast Asian neighbors ranked higher. Oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia were ranked 25th and 41st, respectively, while Thailand, whose economy is double that of the Philippines, was ranked 34th.

Bongato said the data reflects the country’s readiness as IT further advances by leaps and bounds.

“So the question is, are we prepared? If we’re not prepared, what do we do to make ourselves prepared? This is a challenge imposed to both industry, academe and government,” Bongato said. “How do we get our acts together to prepare for this curriculum which we do not understand now. How do we bring it to the Philippines? If we don’t have the expertise here, how do we bring it here?”

Teach children well

EXECUTIVES in a forum organized by the Pearson London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) recommended investing in good education. Most of them said the Philippines should educate children on basic software coding, which “can help the Philippines be more globally competitive”.

“About 65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t exist yet today. That’s a big number,” said Grace Sorongon, John Clements Consultants vice president. “The continuous rise of new entrance in the business will challenge and disrupt the current business model.”

Leon Flores III, currently program and communications manager at the Department of Trade and Industry, cited 14-year-old Filipina Isabel Sieh, claiming to be the youngest Filipino programmer who began learning coding at 10.

Sieh is the founder of Girls Will Code in the Philippines, a community that encourages girls to participate in activities of coding, programming, robotics and engineering.

Flores, a former National Youth Commission chairman, however, said the Philippines is moving at a slow pace in terms of education index, based on the youth development index crafted by the commission that he led in 2013. “Youth development is the expansion of opportunities and choices for the youth for a successful transition into adulthood defined by a long, healthy and creative life. We wanted to have an index so that we will be able to measure youth development in the Philippines because what you cannot measure, you cannot manage,” Flores said.

He defined youth as those persons aged 15 to 30. The slow pace of education index can be indicated by the drop-out rates, lack of functional literacy and low number of college graduates, he added.

Certification response

PEARSON LCCI, a UK-based consulting firm, has partnered with the LGIS Qualifications Assessment Authority (LGIS QAA) to sell an international certification program in the country.

According to Johnson Oyelodi, LGIS QAA international affairs chairman, Pearson LCCI’s program aims to boost Filipinos’ learning competency and employment opportunities across the world.

The partnership will provide a global curriculum with a broad range of subjects, which includes English language, financial and quantitative, marketing and customer service, as well as business administration and information technology.

“The Philippines is full of great potential with huge number of working class millennials. Thus, we wanted them to enhance their skills for them to be globally competitive,” Oyelodi said. “LGIS brings that chance, which aims to level up the talent certification in the country and bring Filipino provide to the global stage through the LCCI qualifications.”

With Patricia Artajo

Image credits: Nonoy Lacza


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