Rural outsourcing pushed

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Monday, May 26, 2014

THOUGH Filipinos have proven their mettle in business process management, not all cities in the country are ready to host companies.

For the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO), a company office need not be set up in a locality for jobs to reach the people.

ICTO Deputy Executive Director Mon Ibrahim said the Rural Impact Sourcing Initiative addresses this. Speaking at the Open Collaboration of East Asia New Champions (Ocean) 2014 Summit last Sunday, Ibrahim said they piloted an area in Tanjay, with 38 persons working for global company Accenture. They hope to employ 100 in 10 cities under a similar arrangement by the end of the year.


Ibrahim said the setup followed similar arrangements done in India and Africa, with work such as writing jobs that can be done at home. He noted that last year, the highest-paid virtual job in the country went for P2.8 million to a teacher based in a town in Misamis Oriental for a research and writing project.

The ICTO will be holding a series of workshops beginning May 30 until November, the first to be held in Daet, Camarines Norte.

The aim of rural impact outsourcing is to provide opportunities in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, mostly rural with a high population but low employment due to the lack of investors. With high-paying jobs offered to residents, the DOST hopes to generate economic and social impacts in chosen areas using an ICT program that pushes access to digital markets.

Ibrahim said that the idea was to have establishments supporting the workers, allowing them to do their jobs in Internet cafés.

He believes the program is in line with the Philippine Development Plan pursuing inclusive growth, targeting 1.3 million direct IT-BPM workers by 2016.

The IT-BPM sector employed some 900,000 as of the end of 2013 and generated US$15.5 billion. The forecast is for 2014 to end with one million direct workers and $17.5 billion in revenue.

The workshops are set to be held in Daet, Koronadal, Kalibo, Surigao, and Calbayog.

These workshops aim to boost awareness in these areas and provide the people knowledge on rural impact sourcing.

The discussion on ICT also reignited the subject on the ICTO remaining a bureau-level government agency, when other sectors have been calling on it to become a separate department and the office handling a big earner for the country.

Ibrahim acknowledged there have been calls to have the ICTO as a separate department and that he himself agrees, saying they can so more if they were a separate department.

His superiors, though, disagree.

Still, he assured that they work hard and do what they can as an office under the DOST.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who co-authored the bill to create a department of ICT, said that the office is not at a disadvantage being at the bureau level, as it has managed to do a lot even if it is under a bigger department.

For National Competitiveness Council co-director Guillermo Luz, it will only be a matter of time when the move to upgrade the ICTO into a department will resurface.

However, he pointed out that creating a separate department will take time to set up and go through several bureaucratic processes before it is completed. He said things need to be thought through and that the current arrangement might not be ideal, but it is better if it means policies and projects can be done.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 27, 2014.


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