A TOP official from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that intensive education and training programs for those in the business process management (BPM) industry should be developed soon by the academe, government and industry innovation ecosystem to minimize the impact of new technologies on job placements.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez underscored the need to develop an inclusive, innovation-led industrial ecosystem that will upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippine core sectors, including the services sector, to improve productivity and output generation.
“There is a need to strengthen curriculum towards computer science, engineering, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) application design, among others. This effort is also deemed to be inclusive as disqualified BPM applicants and retrenched agents will be retrained for AI application development that will eventually enable them to get jobs,” said Lopez, in a statement.
Together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc) and the Unite States Agency for International Development (USAid), the group is currently working on building an inclusive, innovation ecosystem (government-academe-industry network) that will infuse science and technology and innovation in industries, including agriculture and services.
The DTI and the DOST will lead in convening enablers in the innovation ecosystem to map out the overall framework and programs to be implemented. Lopez said he also collaborated with Dado Banatao, a renowned Filipino technology entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley.
Lopez said AI has presented itself as more than just new technology but as a threat to the employees currently servicing the service export industry and the BPM, including the contact centers. AI, reports said, could potentially diminish up to half of the country’s BPM workforce.
“Let us retool and reposition the nature of the current jobs in the industry,” he said.
“We need to train affected BPM employees and strategically orient them on the emerging technology requirements of the industry that will enable them to continuously improve job performance. In other words, making use of technology in their jobs rather than being displaced by it,” he added.
There are approximately 1.2 million Filipinos employed by the BPM industry.
AI is primarily machines exhibiting some form of intelligence and basic learning. These machines can be physical, such as robots, but the core of AI is software having new learning and applying it to specific tasks or functions.
Arvin Yason, lead for technology at Accenture-Cebu Delivery Center, reiterated that the AI phenomenon is already happening and warned that it is going to disrupt the way businesses operate, the dynamics in the workplace, and the everyday living of Filipinos.
While concerns about AI stealing jobs isn’t new, Yason stressed it is about time the country look into this and craft programs to reskill and align workers so they qualify for the high-skill jobs and cement the students’ foundation on advanced IT technologies early.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 13, 2017.
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