Firms urged to invest in upscaling workforce

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita April 17,2018 - 09:14 PM

SAA

IT, BPM sector and the AI phenomenon

With the need to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more apparent, industry experts in Cebu continue to call on companies to invest in upscaling their workforce.

At the same time, the Cebu IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O) is also encouraging companies in the information technology (IT) and business process management (BPM) sectors to tap the new and first ever batch of senior high school graduates in Cebu.

“Much has been said about artificial intelligence. It is here. It is real. And more is expected to come. So it has to be a part of how we do things. We need to do more complex service as the industry gets more competitive,” said CIB.O Managing Director Wilfredo “Jun” Saa Jr. in a press conference yesterday.

The AI phenomenon, Saa said, is also motivating more cities and countries to also set up their own IT and BPM districts which means Cebu is facing more competition for these simpler jobs.

This is why he said, IT and BPM companies in Cebu should focus on leveling up their services to ensure that employees are more multi-skilled and equipped with more complex abilities which cannot be taken away by AI.

Younger workforce

Aside from looking internally among their existing employees, Saa also suggested for companies to take advantage of the new younger workforce entering the market – the first batch of senior high school graduates.

Saa pointed out that these graduates have two options: to pursue a college degree or work already. They can also opt to study and work at the same time as they are already considered eligible.

For their part, Saa said the CIB.O has partnered with the Cebu City government in training these senior high school graduates to be more “employable” in the IT and BPM sectors.

Using the Learning English Application for Pinoys (LEAP), a stand-alone, computer-based training program with lessons and exercises to help students improve their listening and communication skills in English, CIB.O has been going around senior high schools to roll out the program.

“It is a 40-hour program developed by UP (University of the Philippines) Diliman with funding from the DOST (Department of Science and Technology). It is to provide foundational skills. But it does not end there, we still need the support of the industries to partner with senior high schools so they are provided with skills,” Saa said.

LEAP pilot area

In Cebu City, the pilot area and most successful one is the Apas National High School (ANHS).

The program started with training the teachers for them to understand the contents of the program. After which, a total of 17 teachers were made to undergo a seven-day immersion in a BPM company.

The LEAP program in ANHS started last year. As of now, it has produced 73 graduates who were processed by their partner business process outsourcing (BPO) company which is Convergys.

“The good news is after the students successfully immersed in the company, all of them were given soft offers to come back and work for the company after they graduate,” Saa said.

Of the 73 students, 31 were accepted to do frontline calls while the 42 were accepted to do back office work.

Based on data from the CIB.O, there are more than 300 IT companies currently located in Cebu that are employing around 150,000 employees.

Collectively, these companies generate an annual income of P29.3 billion.

The IT-BPM industry is also supported by 450,000 indirect employees who contribute P46.8 billion a year.

Projections

Based on their projections, Saa said they continue to see a growth of between seven to ten percent of these IT-BPM companies which means they would also continue to need more employees.

This is why he said it is important to continue producing graduates and employees that are capable of entering the industry.

The CIB.O has also offered the LEAP Program to other senior high schools in Barangays Zapatera, Mabolo, Lahug, and Banilad which are still yet to see actual results.

For his part, CIB.O President Gregg Victor Gabison said that the continued advancements of AI has not necessarily displaced low-skilled workers.

Instead, he said this has prompted companies to train their own employees to learn higher skill sets.

“Also, companies now have put in place higher requirements for skills when they hire employees. This puts pressure on the academia to inject these needed skills,” Gabison said.

Meanwhile the CIB.O, in partnership with Sykes, is organizing the 2018 Transformation Summit to be held on May 16, an event that will highlight the need to adopt more AI, digital embrace and continued innovation, the shift to higher value services in the IT-BPM industry, among others.

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TAGS: AI, BPM, firms, invest, IT, phenomenon, sector, urged, workforce

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