Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Talent retention still among top challenges of IT-BPM industry

ATTRACTING and keeping talents remain one of the most pressing challenges confronting the billion-dollar information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) sector in the country, a key official said.

According to IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) executive director Penny Bongato, only eight or nine out of 100 applicants are qualified for positions being offered in the industry.

This challenge poses a threat, not only to companies, but more importantly, to the Philippine economy, where IT-BPM contributes a huge chunk to the gross domestic product (GDP).

“Our competitors are global and if they’re not happy, they can transfer to another country,” warned Bongato, who was in Cebu on Wednesday, together with IT experts in the country, for the Cebu Digital Transformation Summit, a two-day activity held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in line with Cebu Business Month.

Cebu City, according to global consultancy firm Tholons, is the world’s seventh best site for outsourcing in the world. Locally, the IT-BPM industry is estimated to have employed some 150,000 people.

In the hiring process, the IBPAP executive director said a company looks into four main factors for entry-level careers in the IT-BPM industry: learning ability, English proficiency, computer literacy, and perceptual speed and accuracy.

“There will be 585,000 graduates this year. There is supply, but are they qualified?” Bongato said.

In the IT field, Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) president Jonathan de Luzuriaga said it would take employers six months to train fresh graduates.

“If we can only double this (the eight to nine percent qualified workforce), we can grow further,” said Bongato.

One of the most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors, IT-BPM in the country generated $22 billion revenue in 2015, and has been growing at a double-digit rate annually.

It is expected to exceed revenues from OFW remittances in the next few years.

This year, Bongato said IT-BPM expects to generate $25 billion in revenues and directly employ at 1.3 million.

One of the IBPAP-led initiatives to reinforce the continued growth of the sector is the service management specialization track or service management program (SMP) introduced to undergraduate education.

SMP is a 21-unit minor course taken by business and IT majors in college intending to go into IT-BPM and other service industries. Through the help of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Bongato said the course has already been adopted by 17 state universities in the country. Howerver, none of Cebu’s universities have incorporated the SMP in their curriculum.

“If you want to grow your company, you have to get involved in education,” the IBPAP official told the audience composed of top officials in the IT BPM sector.

Even without the SMP, Bongato encouraged companies in Cebu to reach out to schools and start linkages with them by accepting internships or encouraging faculty immersions.

“Industry associations (like IBPAP) can only do so much. It has to be you who should go to the schools. The schools are more willing to partner with you,” she assured them. The official also told companies to inform the academe that there is a career in the IT BPM industry.

The University of the Philippines Open University, an online learning school, also offers e-SMP. Traditional schools that have SMP in their curriculum are Lyceum of the Philippines University, Asia Pacific College, and University of Makati, among others.

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