Interview: Lito Tayag

Which changes can the IT and business process management (BPM) industry implement in order to maintain a competitive edge on the global market?

LITO TAYAG: While the IT-BPM industry has grown significantly over the past 15 years and is one of the main generators of jobs, economic inclusion and foreign currency inflows, the Philippines needs to move up the value chain of services in order to maintain its competitiveness. For the Philippines to remain a preferred outsourcing destination, the country must retain current tax incentives. In addition, upskilling to ensure the digital workforce is well equipped to pivot towards the changing needs of the market and adapt to innovative technology is a priority. The proposed National Upskilling Programme, for example, prepares IT-BPM employees for the digital transformation.

We need to leverage our strengths as a global source of talent for digital skills. With our command of English, as well as customer service and technical skills, the country has a strong value proposition for global clients. We should capitalise on innovation to offer more diversified and higher-value services.

How are government, academia and private companies working together to upskill the business process outsourcing workforce?

TAYAG: The BPM industry is working closely with both academia and the government to equip the workforce with the expertise necessary to meet demand for high-skilled workers. One such programme we have implemented in cooperation with the government and schools is the Service Management Programme. The Commission on Higher Education provided the programme’s funding, while industry spearheaded the design of the curriculum, which was initially launched at state universities and colleges. Programmes such as this will help us take on the challenges brought about by digital transformation, and create an upskilling framework for fresh graduates and career employees.

Furthermore, the restructuring of education from a K-10 system to a K-12 system – which expanded mandatory education from 10 to 12 years – is a good first step, and we should keep the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are the foundations of the IT-BPM sector.

Automation, artificial intelligence and new client requirements are reshaping the nature of our work, which will transition to more complex transactions that require critical thinking and creativity. It is imperative for all the different sectors to come together: the industry can help design the curriculum, the academic sector can train future employees, and the government can provide funding and regulatory support.

What are the growth aspirations of the IT-BPM industry, and which segments are best positioned to capitalise on digitalisation?

TAYAG: The IT-BPM Roadmap 2022 aims to help the workforce adapt by focusing on talent development. Digital transformation is an opportunity to reposition the Philippines as the destination of choice for digital skills and a source of innovation. These changes will not only lead to sustained growth, but also job creation and countryside development. The roadmap forecasts the creation of over 100,000 high-value jobs each year, resulting in the direct creation of 1.8m jobs by 2022, 500,000 of which will be in rural areas. Given the industry’s multiplier effect, every IT-BPM job indirectly creates three additional jobs, which means our industry will have created 5.8m indirect jobs by 2022.

The industry also aims to expand the number of small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups to 5000 with a market capitalisation of $10bn in the same period. The skills in high demand in the coming years will include those required for big data analysis, artificial intelligence, project management, customer experience, health care management, and virtual and augmented reality for game development and animation.