Target: Double from Cebu-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Monday, June 2, 2014
WITH talent still considered a major concern for most IT and business process management companies, strategies to ensure the supply of qualified workers are being undertaken by the industry.
Jomari Mercado, president and CEO of the Information Technology-Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said they hope to at least double the number of qualified personnel who apply with the companies in need of workers, by providing channels for students to learn the skills the industry requires.
At the Cebu ICT-BPM Conference and Expo on Monday, Mercado reported that a 21-unit minor course in service management has been approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and is initially available in 17 universities in the country. As of last year, they targeted the training of 685 teachers. They also sought the training of 2,800 teachers in language and hoped to see 20,000 students enrolled in the program.
Most companies noted that only 10 out of 100 applicants get accepted in their organizations. Mercado said that if they can increase the number to 20, they will effectively be doubling the talent pool.
The IT-BPM industry employed some 900,000 nationwide and generated US$15.5 billion in revenue. Cebu contributed 100,000 direct workers and $1 billion. By improving the skills of the graduates, Mercado hopes to see Cebu contribute 200,000 direct workers for the industry.
Options apart from college
Aside from working on the college-level graduates, Mercado said the IBPAP is also turning their attention to high school students.
They are hoping to introduce the service management program into the K+12 system by offering it under the technical vocational skills that students can learn.
Mercado noted that there are 30 percent of high school graduates that cannot proceed to get a college degree because they cannot afford the fees.
By finding high school students who can enroll in the government’s alternative learning system, they can add another 30 percent of high school graduates who can join the IT-BPM workforce.
Mercado said that the first batch of graduates under the program graduated three weeks ago and that they had a 65 percent hire rate.
The IBPAP also received a grant from the Asian Development Bank and Department of Finance to create IT-BPM knowledge hubs, which are venues for sharing best practices, information and learning. Under this grant, the University of the Philippines’ Open University hopes to turn their service management program into e-learning courses.
Once this is completed, the course can be offered to anyone with access to the Internet.
Aside from the basic talent, IBPAP noted the lack of qualified and experienced middle managers. This is among the challenges he sees for the industry ahead. He pointed out that of 140,000 jobs expected for the industry this year, they will need 7,000 middle managers.
There is also the challenge of supplying talent with niche skills.
Competing for skills
Mercado also cited the growth of tourism as a threat to their industry, saying large tourism facilities like hotels and casinos compete for the same kind of talent the IT-BPM industry needs -- those with strong communication skills and good service culture.
As for the impact of economic integration in Southeast Asia, Mercado said the industry stands to gain from it. Since the Philippines is already established as a place to go to for IT-BPM, he said the possibility of more business arriving is strong.
He added that if clients will want to services beyond English, such as in Thai and Malay languages, local companies will be able to find talent from around Southeast Asia.
A downside, however, is the loss of middle management workers who might be tempted to move to other countries and work in other industries.
Other threats include the change in leadership in 2016 and the fears of a change in policies and regulations under a different administration.
Still, Mercado said the future is bright for the industry and they expect to meet a target of one million directly employed and $18 billion in revenue.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 03, 2014.