Establish digital enablement strategy for workers and MSMEs, gov’t urged

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A consumer advocacy group is calling on the government to collaborate with telcos and educational institutions to craft and implement a digital enablement strategy for Filipino workers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“Investments in digital infrastructure will mean nothing if not complemented by investments in digital enablement,” said CitizenWatch Philippines co-convenor Orlando Oxales. “Ultimately, end-users of the technology have to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and predisposition to adapt to the changing times.

Enabling Filipino workers and small businesses to digitally adapt is a way of empowering them and preparing them for the future, Oxales added.

“Digital skills are life skills,” he said. “These days, whatever we do in our professional and personal life has a component of basic digital skills – inputting our transaction in the bank, booking a ride through an app, or attending a virtual meeting.”

Oxales said the collaboration should produce a roadmap on how people and MSMEs could have the required skill sets to compete in a highly competitive digital economy.

“We always say nobody should be left behind; this is the perfect opportunity for the government to make good on that promise,” Oxales said.

The most successful digital economies are the ones who have implemented digital skills strategies for their populations, he said.

“It is a long-term effort to ensure that their people are employable, productive, creative and prosperous, according to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union),” he said. “The research shows there will be tens of millions of jobs for people with advanced digital skills in the coming years.”

Growing demand

A study by the Asian Development Bank and LinkedIn shows a similar pattern in the Asia-Pacific region, with 75 percent of employers reporting rise in demand for new hires with digital skills over the last five years. In the Philippines, 64 percent of employers are convinced of the same, and that six of the last 10 employees hired were required to have basic digital skills.

The report, called Digital Jobs and Digital Skills: A Shifting Landscape in Asia and the Pacific, found that most employers in four countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines) now deem digital skills – such as proficiency with collaboration tools or basic internet skills for commerce – as essential workplace skills. Advanced skills such as coding and programming are also gaining ground.

According to he ADB,  the digital economy in Asia and the Pacific is growing at great speed, with e-commerce expected to reach $2 trillion by 2025.

“As digital skills and credentials grow in prominence, we must ensure that education systems are helping to narrow the digital divide for disadvantaged or marginalized people—and not widening them,” said the bank’s sustainable development and climate change department director Bruno Carrasco.

According to LinkedIn’s regional general counsel and head of public policy for APAC Dave Woodward,  it is critical for businesses to adopt a skills-based approach to hiring and developing talent. “Workers must also cultivate a growth mindset and embrace lifelong learning. This is how we will continue to create opportunities for every member of the global workforce.”

A finding by Statista also showed that even before the pandemic, estimates of full-time employment in the ICT sector worldwide reached 55.3 million in 2020, that there was a growing demand for IT professionals, and that IT executives are among the highest paid in the global economy.

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