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Tech-savvy workforce needed, says Philippines official.

Manila: The Philippines needs to develop a workforce well versed in latest information and communications technology and are fully capable of expressing themselves well, the head of the country's science and technology department said.

"We need to develop aACAysmarter people' to keep abreast with the developments," said Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo.

"Developing smarter people means building up knowledge workers with 21st century skills," he added.

According to Montejo, developing "smarter people" is one of the components of the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) umbrella programme called "Smarter Philippines" which aims to facilitate and deliver more effective and efficient services in several sectors.

The other components of the program include Smarter Government, Smarter Economy, Smarter Mobility, Smarter Environment, Smarter Living and Smarter Cities.

Dr Alejandro P. Melchor III, deputy executive director for Industry Development of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), DOST's lead agency handling the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, explained that "'smarter people', in a nutshell, are information technology-oriented."

Melchor said that the country's BPO and call centre sector are in great demand for this "smart" people.

He said BPOs and call centres need people with skills like critical thinking; capable of effective written oral, multimedia, and multilingual communication; have the ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds; and are creative and analytical.

Montejo said BPO and call centre industry workers in the country are paid relatively well and have high starting salaries, but those who want to work in these fields need to level qualifications.

With the Philippines as the top global provider of Information Techology (IT)-BPO services in Asia, many opportunities indeed await the right candidate.

However, a report from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) said 95 per cent mortality rate among call centre and BPO applicants. This means that out of 100 candidates, only five get hired.

The reason for the attrition rate is because BPO companies just cannot find the right people with the right skills for the number of jobs offered.

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."

"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 centres 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," he said.

According to BPAP the IT-BPO industry in the Philippines is considered as the most promising sector in the country, it yielded $11-billion revenue and provided jobs to 638,000 people in 2011.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 7, 2013
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