Worker upskilling needed to address IT-BPM ‘talent crisis’

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINES needs to have a national talent upskilling program to address the lack of qualified workers for jobs in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector, according to industry groups.
Jack Madrid, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) president, said a national talent upskilling program would help improve the IT-BPM workforce and ease the “talent crisis” plaguing the sector.
He told BusinessWorld in an e-mail there is a need to form an IT-BPM services online talent hub, as well as establish early-stage interventions to improve the employability of senior high school and higher education institution graduates.
He also proposed raising the capacity for specialized degree courses to increase talent supply for the IT-BPM sector.   
“This will involve multiple interventions across multiple years that will require collaboration between Philippine IT-BPM’s stakeholders in the government and academe,” Mr. Madrid said.
The IBPAP is the umbrella association representing the local IT-BPM industry.
Mr. Madrid noted the Philippines is not exempt from the talent supply gap in the global market.
“In fact, according to the Philippine IT-BPM Industry Roadmap 2028, many organizations cite the need for a continuous supply of quality and skilled talent as the sector’s most critical growth engine,” he said.
Rosario Cajucom-Bradbury, managing director of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, said many IT-BPM companies have invested in improving the skills of their employees.   
The CCAP, representing the contact center sector, is one of the sub-sector partner associations of the IBPAP.   
“It has become an imperative for many of the IT-BPM or business process outsourcing companies to invest in re-skilling and upskilling their employees to address shortage of ready-to-hire talents with critical skills needed in the near future,” Ms. Cajucom-Bradbury told BusinessWorld in an e-mail. 
She said there are discussions involving the IT-BPM industry, government agencies and academe to update the curriculum to boost the employability of graduates.
“There are ongoing collaborative discussions to make the necessary changes in the curriculum programs and provide high-impact, focused industry internships to increase the employability of graduates, and therefore increase the ability of the Philippines to supply the demand for the right talents to the rapid growth of the IT-BPM industry,” Ms. Cajucom-Bradbury said.   
She said it is important that interventions are implemented not just by companies, but the country as well.
“The upskilling and re-skilling investments of many of the IT-BPM companies of their employees is a preparation to ensure that talents with single skills are transformed with multi-dimensional skills and therefore ready with the critical skills needed for the future, beyond what artificial intelligence (AI) can do,” she said.   
She also noted the IT-BPM industry has adapted to automation, which is designed to increase work efficiency and productivity, and continued to expand.
Meanwhile, Mr. Madrid said IBPAP has implemented initiatives to address talent supply gap such as the Skills Progression Program in collaboration with the Commission on Higher Education to introduce training programs designed by the IT-BPM sector into the curriculum of higher education institutions.
The IBPAP also opened an IT-BPM talent hub where organizations can post their information and job openings, conduct screening processes and engage with potential talent.
“These interventions are meant to ensure that the Filipino talent has the right mix of skills needed to thrive in the IT-BPM industry as it continues to evolve because of new technologies and innovations such as AI, machine learning and intelligent automation,” Mr. Madrid said.   
Under the Philippine IT-BPM Industry Roadmap 2028, the sector is eyeing to generate $59 billion in revenues and create 1.1 million new jobs by 2028.   
For 2023, the IBPAP aims to reach 1.7 million full-time employees and to generate $35.9 billion in revenues.