A STRONGER collaboration among government agencies, academe, and industry players is pushed to sustain the growth of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City as destinations of choice for information and communications technology (ICT).
ICT enabled opportunities through additional locators and investors.
John Dave Dueñas, president of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT), said the organization aims to further strengthen their collaborations with other industry stakeholders this year.
Dueñas, also the chief executive officer of HYBrain Development Corp., said Bacolod City aspires to be one of the country’s creative hubs with a growing number of creative workers doing freelance or studio projects in animation, game development, and software development.
“We also have a deep pool of talents for higher value jobs such as creative services, financial services management, and also in healthcare information management because we have so many graduates in health care courses and creative services,” Dueñas said.
“BNEFIT will focus more on projects in preparing the current labor market to be more adaptive to the new trends in technology,” he added.
For the federation, the ICT industry in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City has marked a successful 2018.
It can be recalled that from its previous 12-place slide in 2017, Bacolod City has made a big jump in last year’s Tholons Services Globalization Index after placing 89th in the world’s top 100 cities for global services.
The city is eight notches higher from its 97th place in 2017, Tholons’ research report and ranking of the Top 50 Digital Nations and Top 100 Super Cities for 2018 showed.
BNEFIT cited that business environment in the city is attractive to potential investors and ICT organization locators.
The federation attributed it to the business-friendliness of the local government unit, government transparency, incentives for new locators, strong infrastructure for ICT-related companies, and availability of skills and talent in the locality.
In terms of the cost of doing business, that of the province and city is lower compared to other locations.
“Quality of life is better, electricity is cheaper than elsewhere, there is a live-work-play balance, peace and order is way better, crime rates are low, with high literacy rate, and better English speakers of the manpower are also prevalent,” the council president said.
Also, Dueñas expressed optimism that the industry will be able to grow tremendously mainly because of the effective cooperation of the ICT private companies, academe, and LGU.
“The effort is not single-handed but collaborative in nature and we owe it to the community for creating a positive atmosphere for the investors and locators,” he added.
Moreover, BNEFIT took pride that “we get to experience all of the support that we need” to be able to create 30,000 jobs.
They expect to grow the number of employment posts to 45,000 by inviting more locators and investors.
“By end of it all, Bacolod is awarded as the business-friendliest city in the whole country and our local executive is awarded as an outstanding leader at the Asia Leaders Awards, and we wanted to capitalize on that,” its official said.
Meanwhile, ICT development mover Jocelle Batapa-Sigue said Bacolod continues to be on the list of ICT destinations in the Philippines.
Batapa-Sigue, the former executive director of BNEFIT, said the challenge lies in maintaining the attractiveness of the city to the ICT industry, which is also currently experiencing drastic changes due to various disruptive factors.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution demands higher and more complex skills set from the talent pool of a location. If Bacolod continues to lag behind in setting into motion a comprehensive skills mapping program to identify the weak areas and address it in a sustainable manner, we might lose our lead,” she stressed.
The former National ICT Confederation of the Philippines official pointed out that investment in talent should be a major program of LGUs in Negros Occidental.
The investment must be aligned with the job targets for the year, she said.
Batapa-Sigue revealed that next year, two major business process outsourcing players will open in two new additional Philippine Economic Zone Authority-registered sites here.
“This is alongside the continuous expansion of existing locators in the city. Easily, 2019 will see an additional 3,000 to 5,000 jobs,” she said, adding that “to achieve the maximum targets, the city and academe must concretely complement with aggressive talent development programs.”