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Talent Supply still Crucial in IT-BPO Industry

TALENT supply should remain a key priority of the government and the private sector to ensure continued growth in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry.

“We need to work further in ensuring talent supply, considering that IT-BPM is a population intensive industry,” said Jibin Arjunan, Wipro regional head for Asia Pacific and Japan, during the recent Asia CEO Forum in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

The Wipro executive underscored the need for the government to ensure the industry will have a continuous supply in its workforce, as the strong growth in other industries require similar skills or talent qualifications needed by the IT-BPM industry.

“We are entering an age of significant disruption fueled by foreign direct investments such that salary and talent availability have become crucial factors in securing a foothold in this already competitive industry,” Arjunan said.

He noted that Cebu, for instance, has lost its creative people to Luzon. He urged the private sector and the local government to bring these talents back to Cebu for the province to also grow the high-value segment of the outsourcing industry.

Moreover, Arjunan said the Philippines is in a good position to become a strong player in the ASEAN region, both as an investment and employment destination.

“ASEAN integration could be the next big thing for the Philippines in terms of regional power-play,” he said. “With borders opening up, it could lead to movement of high-skilled individuals and more investments,” he added.

Arjunan said the country should leverage on its healthy history of outsourcing business, and low cost of living and business operations to attract more companies to operate in the Philippines and more talents from ASEAN to seek job opportunities.

“This integration could help us rescue the depleting good talent pool and boost investments for the industry,” he said.

Technology, growth areas and talent development are the vital factors that the country needs to prepare for in the digital future, said Jonathan de Luzuriaga, former executive director for Industry Affairs of the IBPAP and current president of the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA).

Aside from the language skills and being highly-trainable, the rise of technology has also prompted industries to hire digitally-equipped workers, De Luzuriaga noted.

He said the era of smartphones and other advanced digital tools have paved the way for new talent qualifications such as social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, a design mindset, new media literate, cognitive lead management, cross-cultural competencies, and computational thinking.

“We need to look at the impact of emerging technology in the way we do business and in hiring talents to join the industry,” said De Luzuriaga.

De Luzuriaga warned companies to prepare for the rise of automation, which could eventually replace jobs of entry-level workers.

“Robotics process automation is here. And it is going to take away jobs of those in the lower rank of the ladder,” he said.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) The Future Jobs report published last January has warned of the transformation in the labor market due to the significant technological advances, pushing the world into the “fourth industrial revolution.” It noted that it will lead to a net loss of over five million jobs in the 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020.

“Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with future-proof skills, governments will have to cope with the ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base,” said Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman in the report.

De Luzuriaga explained that automation won’t have a huge impact yet with the current customer base, as they still prefer the traditional interaction —chat, emails, and phone calls. But automation becomes a real threat when the millennials take over as the huge customer base.

“The new customer base would be technology-driven. This is the area where we need to prepare,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 05, 2016.

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