LOCALS can now look forward to more digital jobs in Bacolod City because of a strong and productive public-private collaboration seen to further enhance the local talent pool and ensure power supply, smooth traffic, good peace and order situation and available infrastructure for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

This development came after officials of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (Bnefit) gave incoming Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez an executive briefing on the ICT industry of the province at the Negros First Negosyo Center in Bacolod City on Tuesday, June 28.

Bnefit chairman of the board and co-founder Jocelle Batapa-Sigue shared the current ICT landscape of the whole province including talent development, business environment, government support, and innovation programs, among others.

Batapa-Sigue shared how Bnefit and partners tried their very best to double the number of digital jobs in Bacolod City from the 2016 count of about 30,000 to 60,000 by 2022.

Also, their efforts to extensively expand the niche of the province and the city from voice-based digital jobs to software development, create processes like animation and game development, and healthcare information management.

She also underscored some industry challenges like the apparent inability of the local talent supply to cope with the pace and growing complexity of the ICT industry, aside from the pandemic and calamities that struck the province.

Benitez, for his part, committed to create programs to address the increasing requirements of the industry by partnering with the federation to generate a sustainable and comprehensive skills database to serve as a guide for investors and for the government to create more strategies.

The incoming mayor also supported the challenge to upskill the local workforce for new technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain, and advanced creative processes.

He also assured industry players in the city of better traffic management and improved peace and order, especially with a fully operational CCTV management system and support for local police, as well as cheaper and more stable power supply that can even entice data centers to locate in Bacolod.

“Our local workforce still needs to improve, especially in complex digital jobs, but that does not mean we will give up. It means we need to work together,” Benitez told Bnefit officers.

He also requested the federation to be the industry research and strategy partner of the city government to further enhance the ICT industry.

Bnefit president Hajee Birth Aquino thanked the mayor-elect for devoting his time to listen to the federation and other ICT stakeholders including various agencies which serve as the latter’s advisers such as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Joining Benitez were incoming councilors Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Jason Villarosa, and Vladimir Gonzales, and Congressman Greg Gasataya.

Gasataya also echoed the aim of Benitez to also support the establishment of startup incubators and accelerators to further nurture the innovation ecosystem of the city in response to the plan of Bnefit and the DOST to scale a industry-led accelerator space this year.

As former councilor, Batapa-Sigue requested for the implementation of her ordinances since 2016 on establishing the Bacolod City Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Training Scholarships for Contact Centers, Software Development, Game Development, Animation and other IT Courses.

Also, for the implementation Bacolod Business Promotions and Investments Week and Setting the Bacolod Trade Expo identifying Key Promotion Areas: Agriculture, Food and related industries, Gifts, Housewares, Decors and Other Craft-Based Industries, Manufacturing and other Industrial Business, Information and Communications Technology and Other Technology-Based Industries Tourism, Hospitality, Health and Wellness and other Service Industries.

She recalled that as early as 2011, Benitez as representative of the Third District of Negros Occidental already signed a manifesto of support for the ICT industry, along with her as president of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) during the first Negros Occidental ICT Summit.

The success strategy of BnefitT is to the constant collaboration of both the city and provincial governments, and beginning 2022, to also help create and strengthen ICT councils in major cities and towns in Negros Occidental with the support of the provincial government. (PR)