Gov’t eyes 30,000 new data scientists with ‘SPARTA’ program

The government launched on Monday, February 24, the “Smarter Philippines Through R&D, Training and Adoption” (SPARTA) program, which aims to produce 30,000 data scientists via an online learning platform.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) developed the SPARTA program in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), the Analytics Association of the Philippines, and e-learning firm CourseBank.

DOST secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the agency has allotted P50.84 million for the project that would run for three years. He said that DAP will be in charge of choosing the trainees.

About 30,000 will be trained in data science and analytics, according to DOST undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, adding that this will be a breakthrough for the “knowledge economy”. Guevara noted that people use data every day — to move around traffic, to order food or clothes online, among many others.

“In 1992, I was a scholar of the DOST at a university in Michigan. I studied signal processing, and part of our work was AI (artificial intelligence). When I came back in 1997, I taught many students on signal processing and AI, but there was no job for them. They ended up going abroad,” remarked Guevara.

She said the DOST is developing human resources through SPARTA which was designed to retain the trainees in the Philippines.

Enrico Paringit, director of the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology (PCIEERD), emphasized that AI aims to develop smart solutions to the challenges that various industries are facing. These industries include the health and education sectors, information technology (IT), and business process outsourcing (BPO).

Data science, on the other hand, will provide opportunities for innovation, Paringit added.

Dela Peña said priority would be given to those working in the BPO sector, as well as government workers who use data analytics in their jobs, and the academe.

“Data can fast-track Philippine growth, in every aspect. In the ease of doing business, for instance, we could do many things using data,” he said.

Meanwhile, those interested to undergo the training must first create an account at www.coursebank.ph. A link to “become a SPARTA scholar” would appear upon registration. — Ma. Cristina Arayata (PNA)

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