Duterte’s support ‘assured’

AN official of the IT & Business Process Association on the Philippines (IBPAP) announced yesterday that industry leaders have met with the key cabinet members of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to get the assurance of the incoming government’s support, as the industry takes on the next steps to achieve the goals that will be outlined in the 2022 ICT-BPM Roadmap.

The industry is aiming to add another one million jobs on top of the current 1.3 million jobs in the next six years or during the six-year term of President-elect Duterte.

“We’ve already met with upcoming cabinet officials. We are now working with the incoming administration,” said Rainerio Borja, one of the founders and former chairman of IBPAP during yesterday’s Cebu Digital Transformation Summit 2016 organized by Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

According to Borja, the growth of the industry in the last 15 years has been broad-based and has been reflected across all services like contact centers, information technology, engineering, creative services, finance and accounting, human resource, legal and marketing—across sectors in telecommunications, travel and—across markets in United States, Europe, Asia and Australia and New Zealand.

Countryside

“The growth has been inclusive and we intend to continue the trend in the next years with the support of the incoming administration,” said Borja, who is currently the president for Philippines and Australian Operations of Expert Global Solutions.

To attain the goal of one million jobs more, Borja said the industry needs a system of education and technical vocational programs that are aligned and adaptive to changing business needs. He pointed out that talent supply remains the top challenge of the industry amid the growing demand of services.

“We need the help of the incoming government to sustain the growth pace of the industry. We want the partnership with the government to be sustainable and the continuation of present administration’s programs especially those that involve talent supply and development,” said Borja.

The industry, likewise, needs a more aggressive Next Wave Cities development agenda to spur countrywide growth.

Borja said there is a growing demand for expansion outside the National Capital Region but for these emerging cities to become viable investment destinations, they need to have available infrastructure, connectivity, and access to multiple flights and roads at all times.

Employment outside Metro Manila stood at 300,000 across all regions. Cebu, alone already recorded 120,000 jobs.

Moreover, the industry needs a competitive regulatory framework and incentive regime and a credible brand marketing program.

According to Borja, there has been pressure from the Finance Department to remove some perks to boost revenue, but he noted that changing the rules in the middle of the game would turn off investors from pouring money into the country.

Growth trajectory

“We rank low in ease of doing business and are at the middle of the pack vis-a-vis mother countries in terms of of our incentives regime...attempts at restricting these will diminish our competitiveness,” said Borja.

He added that if they are to ask resources from the incoming administration, it would be incentives for more players to locate in provincial areas.

IT-BPM has grown to become the second largest dollar revenue source for the country next to overseas remittances. It generated $22 million in revenues last year from $19 million in 2014.

IBPAP expects revenue to reach $24.5 million to $25.5 million by the end of this year, already equivalent to money sent home by overseas Filipino workers. The industry also expects to contribute 7.3 percent to the country’s gross domestic product this year.

“This industry is poised to be the next biggest export revenue of the country today,” said Borja.

Each direct employee in IT-BPM is an additional 2.5 jobs created in industries that support their businesses and sectors, leading to $10 billion employee consumer spending.

“We are the industry that’s able to create the true middle-income class of the economy, as our employees spend on telcos, real estate, travel, retail, food, transport and banking,” he said.

Looking ahead

It has also tapped into unique talent sources —returning overseas Filipino workers for specialized or language skills, nurses for health BPMs, and unqualified applicants go through near-hire training programs, making the industry more inclusive.

Looking forward, Jonathan de Luzuriaga, president of Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA), said they will work on the successes obtained in the past 15 years to level up and cater to more high-value services.

“We are crafting the Roadmap 2022, which aims to elevate the industry to the next level,” he said. “With these, we need to embrace all the digital changes that come along with it and even prepare our workforces for the digital future.”

De Luzuriaga also said that it is about time the country steps up from focusing on service delivery to creating its own products protected by intellectual property.

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