Bernardo M. Villegas
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Model Sector in Talent Development (Part 3)

             In a recent Zoom meeting I had the honor to have with Vice-President and Secretary of Agriculture Sara Duterte, I told her to pursue her objective of having as many graduates of the Senior High School Program in the K to 12 curriculum to be already employable without having to take up college diploma courses.  She, of course, realizes that employers cannot be forced to accept graduates from the K to 12 curriculum.  These graduates must have the skills and competencies required by the jobs available in the business sector.  I cited the IT-BPM industry as a model sector to emulate in its very well thought out talent development program for the coming five to six years to address the already predictable need for an additional supply of one million workers in their industry.  I advised her to have a meeting with the leaders of the industry to discuss how there can be public-private collaboration in the implementation of the talent development program described in great detail in the proposal of the Everest Group which I have been summarizing in the last two articles of this series.

            I am sure that Vice President Sara Duterte will be impressed with how the industry leaders have gotten down to brass tacks by setting outcomes and timelines in their talent development program.  Let me enumerate here the very concrete steps outlined in their program, as an encouragement to other industries who are also facing the problem of shortages of talents such as the construction, health services, tourism, and agribusiness sectors. Industry associations in these very important sectors of the economy should formulate their respective talent and skills development program in tandem with such government agencies as the Department of Education headed by the Vice President herself and others such as TESDA, CHED, DOLE, etc.

            To ensure that their well laid out plans are actually implemented, the industry leaders of the IT-BPM sector will establish an internal committee by next year to review the gaps in existing programs and strengthen them.  By 2024, they should have rolled out multiple pilot programs related to curriculum changes with a selected group of schools and colleges.  I suggest some of the most employment-oriented schools and colleges such as the University of St. Benilde, the PHINMA group of universities, TUCP, National University and the TESDA-related schools like the Don Bosco Technical Institutes, the MFI Polytechnic Institute, the Dualtech Institute, the Center for Technology and Enterprise (CITE) in Cebu, among others.  Because of widespread digitalization in all the sectors of the economy, i.e., agriculture, industry and services, basic computer education should be made compulsory in mid-school by the year 2025.    Also by year 2025, electives for digital/coding should be introduced in senior high school.    Some 150,000 senior high school and college graduates should be enrolled yearly in industry-wide training programs related to the IT-BPM sector.  A policy that governs the implementation of these changes should be relaxed, reviewed, and audited for enhancements to happen faster.  A task force should be created, similar to the National Employment Recovery Strategy.  This body should annually review the progress of national level upskilling/reskilling initiatives and their impact.  There should be established a baseline of workforce with relevant skills such as technical know-how, digital literacy, and language capability by 2024 through the tracer study.    Since there are ten agencies/institutions that are involved in talent reform initiatives, it would be necessary to create a centralized governance mechanism to coordinate the various efforts such as skill surveys, Philippine Skill Framework (PSF) development, on-the-job training programs, etc.  It is very providential that the Vice-President herself occupies one of the key positions in education as Secretary of Education.  She would be the most logical person to do this important task of coordination. This is comparable to the need to coordinate all the government agencies involved in increasing the productivity of Philippine agriculture through the Office of the President who happens also to be the Secretary of Agriculture.

            Even more important than coordinating efforts for talent development among the government agencies involved is the strengthening of industry-academia partnership to align the demand and workforce of the future.  Among the key interventions/initiatives in this partnership are:

1.     Industry-led IT-BPM talent creation—curated courses (either at universities or vocational training programs) designed in resonance with industry leaders and industry recognized/approved certifications for talent on successful course completion.

2.     Promote greater participation between industry and academia to give students a practical experience of IT-BPM work through work immersion and internship programs.

3.     The teachers themselves should have opportunities for immersion and training in the  workplace.

4.     There should be tangible incentives for employers/employees for upskilling/reskilling.

Among the inter-agency collaborative efforts that are key to implementing the talent development program for the IT-BPM sector are the following:

1.     Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) can proactively promote coordination among the member educational and learning institutes to tie up with industries.

2.     Close collaboration between CHED and TESDA with companies to develop these curated degree programs and industry-recognized certifications.

3.     CHED should mandate internship across degree courses through memorandum orders.  DepEd should also encourage internship among senior high students, especially among those who choose the TESDA track.

4.     The IT-BPM industry should offer scholarship, internship/apprenticeship, and job opportunities to the maximum students possible.  Other sectors such as banking, retail, manufacturing, tourism and others that also have a strong demand for IT-savvy professionals should also contribute to the scholarship and internship programs for IT-oriented youth.

5.     Teachers’ training program may be conducted during school breaks provided teachers are properly incentivized for the same.

6.     Government should also contribute to talent development by removing red tape in the granting of approvals, increasing funding for scholarship in those learning institutes well known for contributing most to the talent pool, and providing tax incentives.

The targeted outcomes and timelines are as follows:

1.     All courses and certifications to be in line with PSF and in sync with industry associations’ expectations by the year 2024.  This could also be the year when the Philippine economy would be transitioning from low-middle income to high-middle income category, leading to a more rapid increase in the demand for talents in the IT-BPMm sector, not only for the foreign market but also for the domestic one.

2.     Roll out multiple pilot programs with some schools and colleges by 2024.

3.     Fifty percent of college graduates in fields related to the IT-BPM sector should undertake an internship in the industry before leaving the university by 2025 and 100%  by 2028.  Employers should give preference to those with industry internships/certifications.

4.     Target to provide jobs to more than 75% of the students who have completed the vocational/certification training programs.

5.     Tax incentives to companies on 50% of the training expenses spent on niche technology courses such as data analytics, animation, game development,

cloud computing, blockchain and augmented reality.

            It is my hope that by presenting the very detailed talent development plan of the BPM-IT industry, the other sectors such as construction, health services, tourism, and agribusiness that are expected to also experience shortages of talents as the Philippine economy leads, together with Vietnam and India, in economic growth within the Indo-Pacific region, will be motivated to craft equally detailed human resources development strategies during the coming five to six years under the Administration of President Marcos Jr.  They need not re-invent the wheel.  They should learn from the IT-BPM medium-term talent development plan which government agencies to work with; what universities and tech-voc schools to partner with; how to use the tools of integrated marketing communication to promote the attractiveness of their respective occupations or professions; and most important of all,  how to make the necessary transformation in their respective industries to make working for them attractive to the more demanding and discriminating  generation of millennials and centennials today.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.