Study urges PH gov’t to create ‘skills and training systems’ for online workers

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The government should create skills and training systems to help Filipinos make the most of the increasing demand for online jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This was highlighted in the study titled “Online Work in the Philippines: Some Lessons in the Asian Context” conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and funded by the Asian Development Bank.

According to Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy, Aniceto Orbeta, Ramonette Serafica, and Lora Kryz Baje, senior research fellows and research assistant at PIDS, respectively, it is important to “assess the skills of the workforce vis-à-vis the requisite skills of the target occupation and industries and create enabling environments for workers” to thrive under the ‘new normal’.

They said that skills development is vital to the Philippines considering that it has a “significant number of workers who are into data and clerical services”.

The authors proposed that instead of focusing on specific skills, more emphasis should be given to the creation of a sustainable ecosystem that encompasses skills development programs and training interventions.

Specifically, they urged the Philippines and other Asian countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia to consider more jobs in software development and technology.

Based on the Online Labor Index cited in the study, only around 14 percent of Filipino online workers are involved in software development and technology jobs. This is “quite low” compared to the proportion of a similar set of workers in India, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Bayudan and her co-authors also noted the need to upgrade the information and communication skills of Filipino workers. They also called on schools to focus their training and curricula on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Further, the authors emphasized the importance of developing “a competency framework and a national strategy for skills and human capital development”, which should be enforced through a ‘whole-of-government approach’.  

“The collaboration [among] government, businesses, labor unions, workers, the academe, and service providers will ensure the continuity of the skills system [as well as] strengthen the sharing of information, tools, and resources as the system evolves with the needs of global and local labor markets,” the authors explained.  

They said that the Philippines could emulate Singapore’s SkillsFuture, a system that offers an opening credit to Singaporeans so they can take up skills training and “pursue lifelong learning”.  It utilizes the digital platform to provide a “comprehensive mapping of resources on education, career, and training” to help “Singaporeans make more informed labor market choices”.

The authors also urged the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia to create their niche in platform work and focus on creative and multimedia jobs, ranging from digital marketing to content creation, creative design, and creative technology.

As indicated in the study, the share of creative and multimedia online workers in the Philippines is high at 47 percent. In Bangladesh and Indonesia, this group of online workers comprises around 59 percent and 74 percent of their online workforce, respectively.

According to the authors, this trend is not surprising as creative and multimedia is an emerging industry with a huge potential of generating employment and income.

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