IN THE bid to double the current number of information and communications technology (ICT)-enabled jobs in the province, from 30,000 to 60,000 in the next five years, industry leaders recognized the need to expose the youth to digital career opportunities and develop strategies in all levels to develop their digital skills.
Responding to this need, the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) hosted the two-day Freelancers Fair and Digital Careers Expo at The District Northpoint-Ayala Mall in Talisay City on October 5 to 6.
This is in partnership with Negros Online Workers (NOW), the Digital Careers Advocates of the Philippines (DCAP), Taxumo, and 51Talk.
It was attended by a total of 600 senior high school and college students, teachers, and freelancers from various schools all over the province.
BNEFIT executive director Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, in a press release, said the partners’ skills required by digital careers are possessed by freelancers and they can, therefore, help influence and inspire the students to learn and develop such skills.
“The strategies must be widespread either through formal educational institutions or technical vocational centers, online platforms or interactive activities like hackathons and career expo, among others,” she added.
Topics during the forum included opportunities in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and interview etiquette, career opportunities in the creative industry and game development, careers in software development, and online English teaching.
The pool of speakers included industry members of BNEFIT namely Tapatap Games and Audacity Studio founder Hajee Aquino, Holysoft Studio Managing Director Jinky Besa, Convonaut founder Ed Salinas, iQor sourcing manager Jan Mari Vega, and 51Talk product and public relations manager Vanessa Caceres.
The students were also exposed to the growing freelancing industry as part of digital careers.
Genesis Reonico, president of DCAP, shared the advantages of working at home and ways to improve your career as a freelancer. Reonico is the author of the book, Online Filipino Worker (OFW).
Leif Brian Margallo, founder of Virtual Workforce Professionals (VWP), spoke about his advocacy to bring facilities and campaigns for freelancers in locations where there are no big BPO companies.
He also talked on how to professionalize and monetize one's freelancing career in the right ecosystem.
Reonico and Margallo, both young professionals, encouraged the students to never stop learning and improving their skills in order to be competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Meanwhile, three workshop speakers shared insights on their respective topics, namely JC Mae Palmes on Wordpress, Joanne Pearl Santos on Digital Marketing and Juanito Jacella on web performance analytics.
Aside from the Freelancers Fair and Digital Careers Expo, BNEFIT also held its regular Ideya Exchange with Marianne Tajanlangit-Bebit from the Intellectual Property of the Philippines (IPOPHL) in Western Visayas and Nathaniel Amores of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The federation also staged the Masskara Hackathon Bootcamp featuring Agile Project Management with Ross Monserate, founder of TalkingMyna, as speaker.
For his part, BNEFIT President John Dave Duenas underscored the goal of the organization to generate digital jobs and opportunities.
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Visayas Cluster 1 director Antonio Padre, meanwhile, encouraged the students to improve their entrepreneurial skills and join the agency’s startup challenge.
The event also featured freelancers’ stories where Negros Online Workers Convenor Clarice Lao, and freelancers Natasheen Tan, and Bea Pabiona shared their personal experiences and insights about their freelancing career.