FORMER President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal—Arroyo called on business leaders to bank on the skills of the workforce and to anticipate the disruption in industries brought about by technology.

As keynote speaker of the Mandaue Business Summit 2019 organized by the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Arroyo highlighed Mandaue City’s role, being one of the front-runners in the global furniture business.

“You still account for the bulk of the country’s furniture export but you’re very strong in the domestic market as well,” she said.

The furniture industry, Arroyo said, once encountered a challenge when Europe, a major market, declared that it would no longer want hardwood and rattan-based furniture.

“The industry was so depressed, but I said it’s not the end of the world. I ensured that the Filipino creativity would help find new materials for furniture and sure enough, the furniture industry, particularly Mandaue, adapted and survived,” she said.

What sustained the local industry is the innovative and creative raw materials classifications.

With this, the former President shared strategic insights to prepare for the changing global economy.

“Whatever the strategic directions our country should take, should be the strategic direction of Mandaue City because of your important role in the industrialization of our country,” she said.

Fourth industrial revolution

Arroyo said businesses should remain relevant and competitive in the age of innovation and technology.

“We are entering the fourth industrial revolution. What used to be agricultural became industrial,” she said.

She said the country would benefit from increased growth of capital in technology.

“Now, Mandaue is full of call centers; this is the new wave of development, but our call center industry has an area where they may be vulnerable because of artificial intelligence,” she said.

To be prepared for this, Arroyo said business players should think of ways on how not to be disrupted by technology.

On the service sector, Arroyo said industries should take advantage of the Filipinos’ innate hospitable nature.

“Filipinos have the natural aptitude for personal care and communication skills in basic English. Skills industries and services are going to be very important in this coming age of disruptive technology,” she said.

Earlier, MCCI president Stanley Go said the activities of the chamber are aimed at emphasizing Mandaue’s role as the “Bridge City” and promoting Mandaue among potential investors.

The business summit, which gathered both the private and public stakeholders, took place at the Oakridge Pavilion in Oakridge Business Park in Mandaue City. (JOB)