IGM (I-Google Mo) and SMP
I have been teaching part-time in the Human Resource Management Program of De La Salle College of St. Benilde for the past six years. Every year, young men and women enroll in my class for a variety of reasons. Some of them are already dead set on pursuing a career in HR; others are still in the process of discovery. All of them hope that when they graduate, they will have what it takes to make it in the real world.
I have also been an HR professional for the Information Technology and Business Process Management industry for more than 15 years. I have interviewed thousands of applicants for various IT-BPM requirements: programmers, database administrators, quality assurance people, and testers on the IT software development side. I have interviewed thousands more for the voice and nonvoice BPM companies. I know for certain that the critical-skills gap is very serious and needs to be addressed comprehensively.
We are reputedly a country that speaks the most intelligible English in this region. In fact, many development studies cite this as a competitive advantage of the Philippine workforce.
And yet, English proficiency—both oral and written—is definitely a weak spot for both students and job applicants.
Quite often, I get the chance to go to public and private schools and talk to students. I really like meeting and listening to young people but I see so many of them struggle with the language.
Most of the time, they form their ideas in the vernacular and attempt to translate their thoughts into English. The nuance of what they’re trying to say is usually “lost in translation.”
Students today were born with the Internet. They use this connectivity for everything, from sharing happy moments online through social media to launching IGM to help them with their school work. (IGM, of course, stands for “I-Google Mo.”)
Unfortunately, at times they don’t even read what they copy and paste. Even worse, they miss the point entirely and copy the wrong entry. Whatever happened to summarizing what you’ve read or writing in your own words? Giving essay-type quizzes becomes a double-edged sword, because often the narrative’s logic escapes us. Isn’t it a sad state of affairs that teachers can’t even understand what our students are trying to tell us? Should we just make things easier by giving multiple-choice exams, or constructing tests that require memorization more than anything else?
Of course we shouldn’t. The world of work today constantly changes and is very competitive. Our students—and their parents—rely on us to get them ready to meet whatever life throws at them. That is an immense task, but I have learned that a good way to make a difference is by calibrating what we teach with what industry needs.
The annual entry-level requirements for the IT-BPM industry are upward of 100,000 new hires. The biggest source of applicants are our graduates, thus making it much more important for industry to work with the academe to bring student competency levels up to industry standards. The Service Management Program (SMP) specialization track is the IT-BPM industry’s way of integrating its competency requirements into the school curriculum.
But a number of questions come to mind.
First, can the SMP specialization track—made up of 15 units of classroom electives and 600 hours of internship—really help substantially raise the recruiter’s yield rate when hiring?
Second, will SMP significantly elevate the quality of the country’s graduate pool, as envisioned? Third, and more to the point, can SMP reinforce the Philippine IT-BPM industry’s competitive advantage, globally and in the context of an integrated Asean economic community?
On another level, how can IT-BPM companies leverage SMP’s inherent capacity to speed up a new hire’s integration into the workplace? How will we know if this program is giving us the intended results? Do we need to make adjustments to improve the results we have now?
This semester, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Negros Oriental State University and Laguna State Polytechnic University have around 600 students needing 600 hours of on-the-job training. I would like to personally thank Tsukiden, Sutherland, SPI Global, GenPact,
Ingram Micro, APL PAC, Sitel, Qualfon, Startek, Kalibrr and Lexmark for accommodating the interns. More private higher-education institutions have also expressed interest in offering SMP next school year.
Next year, there will be seven or more state universities and colleges with around 2,000 student-interns. The call to action to all member-companies of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) is loud, clear and very simple: Open up your internship opportunities and form more industry-academe partnerships.
That way, we can make an early assessment, and continue to give feedback to the students and the universities. I strongly encourage IT-BPM companies to accommodate and eventually hire as many SMP interns as they can, because the ultimate beneficiaries are our youth and the Philippine IT-BPM industry.
Interested? Let’s talk.
Penny Sicangco-Bongato (pennybongato@ibpap. org) is also the executive director for talent development at the Ibpap and a former board director of the People Management Association of the Philippines.
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