BPOs need workers with 21st century skills, says DOST

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[/caption] However, a report from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) indicates a 95 percent mortality rate among call center and BPO applicants. This means that out of 100 candidates, only five get hired. Related reports reveal that the reason for the high mortality rate is because BPO companies just cannot find the right people with the right skills for the number of jobs offered. ?We need to develop ?smarter people? to keep abreast with the developments,? said Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo. ?Developing smarter people means building up knowledge workers with 21st century skills.? Developing ?smarter people? is one of the components of DOST?s latest umbrella program called ?Smarter Philippines?, which aims to facilitate and deliver more effective and efficient services in several sectors. Other components of the program include Smarter Government, Smarter Economy, Smarter Mobility, Smarter Environment, Smarter Living, and Smarter Cities. ??Smarter people? are in a nutshell information technology-oriented,? explained Alejandro P. Melchor III, deputy executive director for ICT Industry Development at the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), DOST?s lead agency in handling the BPO sector. Smarter people, in short, are what the BPOs and call centers need. And these are the skills they are looking for, according to Melchor: 1) Critical thinking; 2) Effective written oral, multimedia, and multilingual communication skills; 3) Collaboration across networks; 4) Creativity and innovation; 5) Accessing and analyzing information; 6) Initiative and entrepreneurialism; and 7) Agility and adaptability. Critical thinking. ?The most important skill that BPOs are looking for in every worker is critical thinking,? said Melchor. ?This refers to having a modern scientific mind.? Critical thinking is what makes a person able to discern new challenges and opportunities out of all the information available in order to make high-impact decisions, think strategically, manage change, solve problems, and embrace risk and rejection as needed in entrepreneurial thinking. Effective communication. The 21st century worker needs to be able to express himself or herself whether face-to-face, via media, or via Internet such as e-mail exchange or online forums. BPOs and call centers communicate and coordinate with people of all nationalities, such that workers need to be flexible in dealing with people of various age groups, ethnicities, socioeconomic conditions, and profession. Further, effective communication also means being able to listen to others. Collaboration across networks. Today?s workers should get familiar with learning other people?s methods, cultural references, and work habits to ensure effective collaboration. Learning to trust others in the midst of a virtual environment is also essential, as communication is only done via e-mails,net meetings, and conference calls with little or no personal interaction. Creativity and innovation. This is the ability to think out-of-the-box and attack problems from a new angle. Related skills include planning skills and generating ideas; developing abstract thinking by exploring relationships, patterns, and association; and maintaining curiosity. Accessing and analyzing information. It is important to know where to find the right information at the fastest possible time, distinguish between fact and opinion, evaluate the relevance and importance of other people?s arguments, and know what to do with information that are conflicting, inadequate, and ambiguous. Initiative and entrepreneurship. Today?s corporations have evolved from being top-down to a ?flattened? model, thus employees are often left on their own to figure things out. Workers today need initiative and to do things without being told, including offering creative solutions to the company?s unique problems. Flexibility and adaptability. This skill is very important, as good opportunities come to those who are willing to relocate or move from one position or job to another. This is one mark of a person?s good managerial and leadership skills. Moreover, agility and adaptability makes employers confident of their workers, trusting them to be stable even during turbulent times and able to cope with new and challenging responsibilities. Today?s businesses do demand more from the current crop of workforce, thus 21st century skills are critical factors that affect the chances of applicants? success. The Smarter People component of ?Smarter Philippines? will have the government through DOST work closely with the industry and the academe in coming up with ICT-enabled tools to help today?s workers develop these skills. S&T Media Service, DOST-STII ]]>

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