While outsourcing to onshore and offshore regions has become a commodity for major companies, Philippine SMEs still have to gain a foothold into the European market. Today’s challenge is to position Philippine suppliers in the market, develop human resource capability, and promote the country as a preferred destination for outsourcing and offshoring services. The European Innovation, Technology, and Science Center Foundation (EITSC) implements projects in collaboration with partners to further Philippine-European trade and investments in the information technology and business process outsourcing sector.
Bridging the gap
What We Have Done
- Dualized Training System
The Department of Labor and Employment projects some 4 million jobs created with more than 3 million new graduates joining the workforce between 2006 and 2010 within the fields of agribusiness, cyber services, engineering, healthcare, tourism and hospitality.
While studies show that there are more new jobs than there are new graduates in the Philippines, finding the right number of qualified talents among the annual graduates, job seekers, and those already in active employment remains a challenge. Fresh graduates and long-unemployed job seekers are met with difficulties in finding and landing jobs in the market. Employers and its agents, on the other hand, are likewise met with the same kind of difficulties in finding the right talents to fill-in jobs needed to support business growth and competitiveness goals.
Some reasons for the lack of industry-qualified graduates and job-seekers to fill in vacancies are: not enough trained supply, inability of the applicants to meet the required high standards of companies, lack of academic alignment with industry human resources requirements, and high exit rate of employees due to the absence of a clear career growth path.
The EITSC, in partnership with Hanns Seidel Foundation/Germany, through a project co-funded by the European Commission entitled “Establishment of Market-driven and Technology-based Courses and Further Training for the Information Technology (IT) Sector in the National Capital Region,” is advocating the dualized training system or DTS as a viable solution to the skills mismatch between industry and academe and as a platform to address the human resource needs of Philippine companies providing outsourcing and offshoring services.
DTS is a training process that empowers a company to provide relevant content to a partner educational institution in order to equip students with a set of skills developed to suit the company’s needs. Students who have undergone dualized training exhibit good work attitude, superior communication skills, clear career direction, and enhanced decision-making capabilities. DTS also benefits companies as they are presented with trained and skilled students upon graduation.
After holding several workshops on DTS, the Project has developed a competency standard, a competency-based curriculum, 53 DTS learning packages, and a competency assessment instrument for Contact Center Servicing. These resources will be integrated in UMak’s short-term and associate degree courses on contact center services.
The Philippines has already embraced today’s fast-paced global economy. To address the global demand for services, talent development is key. Industry and academe must join hands to combat the country’s current human resource crisis on employment mismatch not because of the lack of opportunities but of the lack of available qualified talents. Should this be unabated and with the exponential demand for services, unemployment will continue to rise and companies will find it difficult to expand and innovate according to global market demands.
- Open Source Initiative
Given that the Philippines is a major source of IT skilled workers, a Private-Public Partnership project was implemented to expand job opportunities in the country by starting a nationwide capacity-building project for software development and network management services on the Open Source platform.
The Philippine Open Source Initiative dubbed “POSITIVE” was an endeavor of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Wireless Services Asia (WSA) and the EITSC.
POSITIVE was officially launched in May 2005 and completed in the end of 2006. Its objectives were to promote the use of Open Source solutions and to strengthen Open Source software development capability in the Philippines. To realize this objective, POSITIVE sought to institutionalize an Open Source curriculum among the country’s colleges and universities offering information technology and software engineering courses to strengthen the skills of students apart from using proprietary applications.
Many tertiary educational institutions are limited to using proprietary applications for software development. Incorporating Open Source in the curriculum of academe provides students the opportunity to hone their skills in developing software code using non-proprietary programming tools and databases. As the Philippines strives to open its doors to becoming an IT hub, it is important to create a pool of skilled workers who can cater to the growing international demand on Open Source applications. By strengthening the Open Source skills of the Philippines’ software developers, the country gives itself an edge in providing outsourced software development to offshore markets.
POSITIVE partnered with several colleges nationwide who have already incorporated Open Source courses in their curriculum. POSITIVE evaluated existing curricula of these institutions and improved it by introducing a competency-based Open Source framework and curriculum track. Rolled-out in June 2006, the courseware included syllabi, presentation slides, instructor’s guides, and laboratory / exercise workbooks for 5 college subject areas: IT Fundamentals, Operating Systems, Database Administration, Database Management Systems, and Web Programming.
Some 329 professors of computer courses from 147 schools nationwide participated in a hands-on train-the-trainer program sponsored by POSITIVE. Workshops were held in Angeles, Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Iligan, Metro Manila, and Zamboanga. The participating teachers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the training for it provided them all of the necessary materials and tools to effectively teach the courseware to their students and advocate its use in their respective schools.
Though the project was completed in December 2006, GTZ, WSA, and EITSC hope that all sectors of the Philippine IT industry and academe will continue to promote and adopt Open Source solutions.
- Common Quality Language
The EITSC was the business facilitation partner of the EU-funded project entitled “EU-Philippines Common Quality Language (ComQuaL).” This initiative aimed at establishing long-term, strategic trade partnerships between Europe and the Philippines in the field of IT and IT-enabled services improved the capacity of participating Philippine IT companies to meet the expectations of EU clients and matched them with potential European partners. Through this project, a quality standard recognized in Europe was introduced and integrated in the operations of participating Filipino IT SMEs (small and medium enterprises) as key to meeting EU customers’ quality expectations, generating contracts in Europe, and developing long lasting business relationships.
From January 2005 to June 2007, the project helped a consortium of 15 Filipino IT service providers understand European quality standards to enable them to define and implement a quality system that covers all the essential business processes to ensure clients’ satisfaction. Trade facilitation resulted in contracts valued at 567,000 Euros. Long lasting partnerships were established with at least three instances of repeat contracts between Philippine and European IT and BPO companies.
A training scheme for achieving business excellence was developed and implemented by European and Philippine Total Quality Management (TQM) experts in nine training courses sponsored by ComQuaL in 2005 and 2006. The courses resulted in over 200 people trained on European quality standards. Based on this training scheme, an e-Learning platform was also developed and deployed to help train small-to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) at large. By June 2007, 311 people had been enrolled in the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model, TickIT-Quality Management Systems (QMS) and Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) courses and 150 had successfully completed online courses. The total number of people directly trained by ComQuaL through face-to-face courses and the online training platform therefore reached over 500 people. To help and guide the members of the consortium in TQM implementation, 135 individual coaching visits were conducted.
- Getting Human Resources Back on Track
Started in 2004, the Project is a 5-year institutional strengthening of the EITSC with the aim to fortify its capability in implementing information technology (IT) education/training and adopting the dualized training system (DTS).
To date, the project has established 3 training venues suitable for conducting market-driven workshops and seminars. One is the “EITSC Training Hub” with a lecture room for 24 trainees and a computer laboratory with 15 personal computers located at Phil. AXA Life Centre in Makati City. The other 2 venues are offsite training facilities — the “EITSC Computer Laboratory” at the University of Makati (UMak) inaugurated in August 2008, and the “EITSC Computer Laboratory” at the Rizal Technological University (RTU) launched in February 2009. Both are equipped with 21 personal computers.
In addition, with 21 trainers engaged, the EITSC Training Hub now offers 27 softskills and 25 technical skills courses, making a total of 52 courses deployed to enhance the competencies of students, graduates, teachers, and knowledge workers.
In collaboration with the local governments of Makati and Quezon City as well as with RTU, Samahan ng Mamamayan — Zone One Tondo, Inc., Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, ATRIEV Computer School for the Blind, and Saint Pedro Poveda College, English and IT training programs have been offered to the urban poor, out-of-school/out-of-work youths, and differently-abled persons.
Also, the project has provided English and IT training to teachers in Metro Manila. This was through linkages with the Bagong Henerasyon Foundation, Inc. (BHFI), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Taguig (PLT), RTU, UMak, and Saint Pedro Poveda College.
To present high school students career opportunities in IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), 4 high school career orientation seminars have been organized and attended by 393 high school students.
And on IT Certification, the Project has conducted a survey among market leaders of industry and some government agencies to define existing IT assessments and certifications, both globally and locally recognized and accepted, that individuals can take in order to affirm their skills and competencies in IT. The result of the survey is an IT Certification Guide made available in CDs to students, industry practitioners, and academic professionals.
In a drive to build human capability, the EITSC in partnership with Hanns Seidel Foundation/Germany and the European Union will continue its initiatives to contribute to the enhancement of the competitiveness of the Philippine IT and BPO sector.