Quality education as a national priority
Life and work today are global endeavors, and will become increasingly so with each passing year. Current technology enables us to instantly learn of practically any important or even trivial event when it happens, as it happens, anywhere on the planet, in high-definition video to boot. Years ago, it took days or even weeks before credible information could filter through from one hemisphere to another. For instance, thanks to the courage and ingenuity of Filipino journalists and publishers including Eggie Apostol, the late Letty Jimenez Magsanoc and the reporters and columnists of this newspaper, the international press got hold of reports of the atrocities and the plunder of the Marcos regime, but it took a while.
Today, an ill-considered remark by a head of state as well as the reactions to it reverberate across the globe through various media channels almost instantaneously.
Also because of technology, people can now work in a virtual borderless environment, and Philippine talent is in the middle of it all. To be clear, “talent” here refers to the skills and competencies that industries need to keep and maintain their market competitiveness. Filipinos working in foreign countries are generally known for their intelligence and no-nonsense work ethic. This reputation makes for a compelling argument for global organizations to seek out Philippine talent right at the source for their outsourced business processes.
Last December, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) released Accelerate.Ph, its strategic roadmap covering 2016 to 2022.
The report, prepared by the international consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, describes the Philippines as a top-tier destination for information technology and business process management services, and points out that in the past 10 years, the IT-BPM sector has achieved significant growth and progress in terms of expanding its share of the global market. Today, it is the No. 1 destination for voice-related services, and rapidly growing its capability and potential to offer nonvoice services to an increasingly broader set of clients worldwide.
Furthermore, the Philippines has a wage advantage compared to most emerging IT-BPM centers (with the exception of India) and has a reasonably high rate of tertiary enrollment. It also has an advantage over other IT-BPM destinations in terms of the English proficiency of its workforce. The Philippines is currently the fifth largest English-speaking country in the world, with over 70 percent of the population able to converse in English. Global studies clearly identify the Philippine workforce as a leader in English proficiency.
There are, however, clear signs of maturation of the Philippine IT-BPM industry, despite its youthfulness compared to such other industries as agriculture, manufacturing and mining. Accelerate.Ph points out that the projected growth will be fueled by high-value services that the sector will increasingly offer over the next six years, helping the Philippines move up the value chain.
This is a major shift that puts pressure on the entire education system. Moving to high-value services means adopting new teaching strategies and approaches to address the high-level competency requirements in areas like data analytics and engineering and legal process outsourcing in the contact center subsector, automation enablement and systems integration in the IT subsector, and remote health management in the health information management subsector.
There are clear indications that both basic and higher education are gearing up to meet the task at hand. It would be a big help, though, if quality education is expressly stated as a national priority rather than the summary execution of suspected drug-dealing lowlife.
Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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