From ‘harvest’ to ‘cultivate’
One reason employers find it so difficult to find, attract and keep the right talent is actually twofold: The job itself and the competencies that go with it keep changing so fast that time-honored talent sources (i.e., the schools) are hard-pressed to keep up. The pace of development in our globally connected workplace calls for a new learning ecosystem that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman describes as one where “we have to educate people to do jobs that don’t yet exist, which means we have to invent them and train people to do them at the same time.”
Take the case of Ryan Orbuch from Austin, Texas. In “The Youngest Technorati” published in the New York Times in March 2014, the author Matt Richter wrote that as a 16-year-old high school senior, Orbuch and his friend Michael Hansen developed an iPhone app called “Finish” using free or low-cost app development tools. The Apple Store ranked Finish the No. 1 productivity app in 2013. It also won the Apple Design Award.
What makes the app so special? It helps procrastinators finish what they started, hence the name. Ryan is 18 now and is seriously developing his app development work into a viable business venture.
Then there’s 20-year-old Nick D’Aloisio, the English programming prodigy who created a mobile app called “Summly” in 2011 when he was only 15. Summly intelligently summarizes news articles for smartphones. Yahoo News found Summly so innovative that it bought the app reportedly for $30 million in 2013, when D’Aloisio turned 18.
Indeed, many of today’s millennials are more inclined to creating their own jobs than seeking employment. Many young mobile app developers are succeeding famously, partly because the cost of creating and developing an Android or iPhone app is no longer as expensive and as time-consuming as it used to be. These days, you don’t even need to have program coding skills. You can find the tools you need or even outsource the job to professional coders, thanks to the Internet.
Or maybe our new graduates are driven to be more entrepreneurial precisely because it is so difficult to land a job—any job—these days. In any event, current technology and the sense of community that being digitally connected brings allow them to do just that.
Our schools and the industries that draw talent from them need to work more closely to prepare our youth to prevail in a world like this. At the IT BPM (information technology and business process management) Human Resources Summit held last May, “The Talent Landscape for 2015 and Beyond,” Benedict C. Hernandez, executive committee chair of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap), remarked that the talent development strategies of today’s employers, particularly IT BPM companies, need to be more engaged and proactive. It is no longer enough to just wait and “harvest” whatever talent our education systems produce, whether senior high school, the technical-vocational institutions, or college.
Hernandez enjoined members of the IT BPM industry to “cultivate” the talent it needs by actively working toward multifaceted partnership arrangements with the education community and its stakeholders around issues like industry-specific immersion programs for both students and faculty or two-way externships between faculty and industry practitioners so they can learn from one another.
The Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (Pacu) must have been listening because just last June 8, it passed a resolution institutionalizing industry-academe partnerships. The Pacu aims to “facilitate the development of a symbiotic relationship between its member institutions and partners from the different industrial sectors and act as a dynamic liaison unit with industry counterparts in order to identify opportunities and develop innovative solutions for problems in aid of national development.”
Led by Michael M. Alba and Vicente K. Fabella, presidents of Far Eastern University and Jose Rizal University, respectively, the Pacu has been aggressively pursuing programs and opportunities that would forge meaningful collaboration among higher education institutions, industry partners and allied organizations. In recent months, the Pacu has organized and hosted forums on leveling of expectations between academe and the business, finance and accounting, engineering, and IT BPM sectors.
The output of these discussions propelled the Pacu to pass its June 8 resolution, which says in part that its efforts will focus on internships, externships and special projects such as senior high school mentoring, curriculum development, teacher immersion, industry certification and industry accreditation.
Furthermore, stakeholders can expect the Pacu to spearhead the creation of regional industry-academe linkages committees. It likewise seeks to embark on a series of collaborative activities with the various industry sectors to determine the skills needed per administrative region and to establish a digital clearing house to match the supply of skills with industry’s personnel needs.
This is uncharted territory, for all stakeholders. Ryan Orbuch’s mother, Stacey Stern, a straight-A student and a graduate of Duke University, told the New York Times: “Things used to be linear. You went to a good school and you got a good job, and that was the societally acceptable thing to do. Now, there is no rule book.”
Butch Hernandez (email@example.com) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and education lead for talent development at Ibpap.