Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Republic of the Philippines 2001 - 2010

Industry-Academe Linkages

In the Main Education Highway, the end goal is to be able to prepare our students to compete for employment or entrepreneurship opportunities. The vocational/ technical education and higher education serve as the vehicles that will facilitate learning to enable the students to survive and succeed in our competitive world.

In his update to the PTFE on "Industry Moving Forward in Education", Amb. Donald G. Dee had stated that Industry-Academe Linkages had enabled cohesive and responsive programs to address demand-supply challenges of employment . Findings from previous studies conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) concluded that there is a mismatch between the demands of industry and the learned skills and competencies of college graduates. A separate update to the PTFE from Sec. Romulo Neri in 2008 showed that over 20% of college graduates (about 100,000 out of the 500,000 annual graduates) are unemployed. Ironically, there are growth industries that are experiencing difficulty in recruiting and hiring candidates due to inadequate skills. Also, many available jobs are technical-vocational: e.g. welding, carpentry, masonry.

PTFE had taken initiatives to establish links and connections between post-secondary institutions and industry groups. The PTFE had recommended that the schools and universities review their course offerings and design their curriculum to support industry requirements. The Task Force also requested the private business sector to be more specific in identifying skills and competencies that are required for employment and improved worker productivity.

ORGANIZING THE PRIVATE SECTOR INDUSTRY GROUPS TO UNDERTAKE HUMAN RESOURCES PLANNING (Demand Side)

In 2008, nine industries, where there are growing opportunities for employment but where competency/ skills requirements did not quite meet job specifications, were identified and monitored by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) - Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade (U-ACT) and the PTFE. Industry champions were assigned to meet with key industry players and analyze where the mismatch was occurring. The nine industries and the champions are:

"Moving Forward with Industry-Academe Partnership To Address Employment Mismatch", Amb. Donald G. Dee, September 01, 2009.

The first two industries, Business Process Outsourcing and Construction, had well-organized associations and clear business directions. Much work had been done by industry and academe towards addressing the job-skill mismatch in the BPO and Construction industries in 2009-2010. The results of their work will be discussed later.

Although the Tourism and Hospitality Services industry forecast showed substantial growth, the detailed manpower plans were difficult to review at a national level. There are varied tourism and HRM associations across the country; and there was no single national association that could represent this industry sector. However, the training / education needs at the provincial and regional levels, particularly in the bigger resort locations are easily identifiable. TESDA is already implementing training courses to prepare the local folks in Davao, Palawan, Aklan and Bohol for employment. The training courses include hotel and restaurant management and services, tour specialist services, health and spa services and food technology, among others. The extensive work done by TESDA in training-for-work programs is highly recognized by the PTFE.

PCCI and its local chapters will replicate this initiative in other locations where there are clusters of tourism and HRM-related operations in 2010-11. The general plan is to focus on tourism hubs and work with local communities, business owners, tourism groups and LGUs to identify business opportunities and jobs for local talents in hotels, food outlets, recreation sports and other ancillary services. PCCI-UAC/T will organize local industry groups that can work with LGUs, DOLE and government agencies to develop a systematic process for sourcing and matching job applicants and available jobs. Training programs should include courses that will enhance knowledge of local history, food specialties and culture.

The other six industry sectors are reviewing their business plans that will serve as basis for forecasting the human resources requirements and the competencies that are critical to the success of their industry. PCCI and U-ACT will link up with the academe sector when they have updated manpower demand forecasts.

A. THE BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING INDUSTRY

The fastest growing industry at present is Business Process Outsourcing. The BPO industry includes Call Center Operations, Backroom Office Operations, Medical Transcription, Software Development and 2D/3D Animation, among others. Of these, Call Center Operations has the biggest demand for human resources.

In 2009, the industry generated US$7.2 billion of revenue, representing a growth of 19% amid the global recession. As the global economy recovers, the industry is expected to grow an additional 26% in 2010 and 27% in 2011.

Source: Business Processing Association, Philippines

1. Job Generation

From 2,400 workers in 2000, the industry has grown to 442,164 workers as of 2009. It is expected to generate another 115,000 jobs in 2010 and 150,000 in 2011, bringing the total workforce of the industry to over 700,000. These figures do not even include the indirect jobs generated from auxiliary and ancillary services.

The main competency requirement for BPO jobs is proficiency in oral and written English. Unfortunately, most of the job applicants lacked English skills as evidenced by a very low hiring rate. In 2008, only 5 out of every 100 applicants passed the assessment tests and initial screening / interviews. Another 10 to 15 applicants were considered as "near hires". After undergoing one to two weeks of training in English, these "near hires" were given the opportunity to re-take the assessment tests and go through the screening process once more.

In 2009, the hiring rate improved to 8% for immediate hires and 19% for "near hires", mainly due to the initiatives taken by the BPO industry on recruitment and training, with the assistance of TESDA, BPA/P and the academe sector.

2. Initiatives to Improve Hiring Rates Short-term Initiatives

The need to fill positions in the BPO industry, the goal of government to improve employment rates, and the desire of universities and colleges to place their graduates in well-paying jobs, prompted a three-way partnership by the industry-academe-government sectors. Together, they crafted short training courses for near-hires and far-hires. These training courses usually run for one to two weeks, except for software development that takes 6-8 months to complete.

Training programs to improve spoken English skills were funded by the hiring companies in some cases. In other cases, the job applicants took the initiative to enroll in short English courses that will help them pass the qualifying exams. Some were recipients of the PGMA Training for Work Scholarships, later on renamed President Gloria Scholarship Program that was administered by TESDA and the Business Processing Association, Philippines (BPA/P).

The Pangulong Gloria Scholarships had continuously supported the BPO industry in the training of "near hires" for voice and non-voice occupations. TESDA's Finishing Course for Call Center Agents and training programs for animation, software development and medical transcription helped "near-hires" to sharpen their skills and improve their chances for employment. Employment yield rates for the BPO sectors are as follows: 70% for Contact Centers; 82% for Medical Transcription; 100% for Software and 100% Animation.

Since 2006, more than PhP 565 million had been provided to BPA/P, local government units and other accredited training institutions for the training of 139,707 workers. In 2008 alone, PhP 350 million was allocated to the BPO industry through the BPA/P to assist the industry in their bid to become a world player in the outsourcing and offshoring (O&O) services. In 2009, an additional allocation of PhP190 million from the Pangulong Gloria Scholarship Program supported the industry that continued to grow despite the global economic crunch.

Medium Term Initiatives

The short-duration training initiatives bridge the demand-supply gap so the Philippines will be able to establish a credible human resources base. According to Mr. Oscar Sanez, CEO of BPA/P and Atty. Jamea Garcia, Talent Management Director of BPA/P, the supply and quality of talent will determine the growth of the BPO industry in the Philippines. But short-duration pre-employment training courses are expensive to maintain by both the employers and government. The industry needs a deeper supply of talents who can be immediately hired, talents who already possess skills in spoken and written English.

The immediate sources of talents are schools, colleges and universities. The schools, on the other hand, want to be more active in helping their graduates, and even their working students, find well-paying jobs. Hence, a partnership amongst BPA/P and the companies they represent, COCOPEA and PACU, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was formed.

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) completed a pilot project with the Business Processing Association, Philippines (BPA/P) on Advanced English Proficiency Training (AdEPT). This program was later on renamed as Advanced English Pre-employment Program, retaining the acronym AdEPT, to reflect its true intent.

Source: Reports from TESDA and the Business Processing Association, Philippines

"AdEPT is a language training course that has a track record of developing more than 60% of "near hires" into "employable status" in the contact center industry. It was developed 7 years ago to help address the low 5% passing rate of new graduates – with language as the main reason for not meeting recruiting standards."

The objective of the program was to dramatically raise the level of English proficiency of college graduates, leading to increased employment levels in contact centers and other O&O sectors. The program leveraged on existing assessment and training modules used by BPA/P member firms and/or COCOPEA member schools.

The pilot program was launched during the 2nd semester of school year 2007-2008 involving 5 pilot partnerships (school + contact center). The participating schools were UE, JRU, Emilio Aguinaldo College, PWU and DLSU Dasmariñas. The participating contact centers were ICT, ePLDT, eTelecare, Convergys and Teletech. The ADEPT class was offered as a free-elective to graduating students.

Based on the assessment of the pilot program by BPA/P and the participating schools and contact centers, a full-scale program, including the items below, was prepared

  • Finalization of the design of the student evaluation tool to determine what level he/she is in English proficiency.
  • Finalization of the courseware (curriculum and modules) for the ADEPT
  • Finalization of the first batch of schools that will implement the ADEPT program.
  • Identification / assessment of teachers who will handle the ADEPT program in participating schools.
  • Teacher training on content, process and learning methodologies
  • Marketing and promotions program for attracting students to the program

Faculty Training Program

"BPA/P 2007 – 2010: Executing the Roadmap", a presentation by Atty. Jamea Garcia in ICT-Davao Convergence 2009.

The APC Center of Asia Pacific College shared their assessment tools with BPA/P and participating schools and companies. They also conducted several pilot training programs on teaching and assessment methods in 2008-09, together with BPA/P.

CHED recognizes the importance of the ADEPT program, and had supported its implementation. According to then Chairman Romulo Neri, higher educational institutions have the prerogative to adopt the program within their existing approved curricula. The present CHED Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Angeles, also fully supported its implementation and conducted awareness campaigns with pilot runs in Region 3.

According to BPA/P, there are 26 Partner Schools, 15 Partner BPOs and 7 Partner Training Institutions, as of 2009. The challenge for academe and industry is scaling up and marketing this program to schools and students to ensure that there will be enough supply of qualified employees to meet their targets.

Other BPO Competencies and Skills

Aside from English proficiency skills, COCOPEA is presently discussing interventions to develop the students' skills in communication, critical thinking and initiative-taking. They are working with the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) on a program design that can be adopted by colleges and universities, and that can be integrated in their existing curricula for first and second year college students. This will increase the competitiveness of graduates in the domestic and international job market. These additional human resources skills will also enhance our country's attractiveness as a site for higher level BPO services, e.g. financial analysis, investment analysis and legal research among others.

PTFE Update from Dr. Vincent K. Fabella, President, Jose Rizal University, President, Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities 2009-10

Management and Leadership Competencies

The phenomenal headcount growth in the BPO sector requires a proportional increase in supervisory and management level positions. Aside from the skills mentioned above – communication, critical thinking and initiative-taking, leadership and management skills are important in an industry whose primary resource are people. Modular programs were designed to increase the number of capable middle managers in the BPO industry.

The Ateneo and DLSU Diploma Course in Business Process Outsourcing is a 16 day management development program designed for middle managers and can be credited as a 6 unit MBA elective.

BPAP also started a leadership development program for managers with Harvard Business Publishing in 2009. This is a competency based curriculum using HBP content. Facilitation of the cases and modules is conducted by Harvard Business School accredited facilitators and industry experts.

3. BPA/P's Updated Road Map 2016 and Next Wave Cities

The Business Processing Association, Philippines (BPA/P), with the support of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), will undertake BPA/P's IT-BPO Road Map 2016, a Preliminary Study that will include, among others, Offshoring and Outsourcing (O&O) industry talent development, process improvement and promotion activities. The initial study is expected by September 2010.

The Philippines is currently the #2 global destination after India. We have excelled in voice and non-voice contact center operations. We continue to develop a strong niche in backroom office services and IT outsourcing services. There is much room for growth in the creative sector, i.e. animation, game development (PC gaming and console games) and medical / educational animation.

BPA/P and CICT are also working with the business sectors and universities and colleges in the Next Wave Cities to develop their human resources, a necessary requirement for attracting investors to set up BPO operations outside of Metro Manila. The availability of supply and the quality of our talents are critical to their growth. The chart below shows that the IT-BPO talent pools in all top-10 Next Wave Cities of 2008–2009 are theoretically underutilized, and can potentially support much larger industry operations.

Source: Next Wave Cities 2009, Report by BPAP, CICT and DTI

B. THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

The Construction Sector is one of the biggest job generators in the country today. This sector is also well organized. Industry leaders had collaborated with the educational sector in the past, both for short-term training programs and for developing the curricula of engineering courses. They had done industry studies and researched on competency gaps in 2008-09 with the help of the International Labor Organization.

1. Engineering-related Technical-Vocational Training Programs

Many available jobs in this sector are technical-vocational. The training of skilled workers for the construction industry is supported heavily through the Pangulong Gloria Scholarships.

"Philippine-IT BPO: Talent Development in the Next Wave Cities", BPA/P, 2009 "Next Wave Cities™ 2009", a joint publication by the Business Processing Association, Philippines (BPA/P), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

For the period 2006 to 2008, a total of 50,863 workers have been trained in heavy equipment operation, carpentry, plumbing, welding, and other related trades. TESDA has also implemented the Enterprise-based Group Training Scheme under PGS. Its industry partners are, among others:

  • DM Consunji, Inc.,
  • FF Cruz, Inc.,
  • Monark Foundation Inc.,
  • Construction Manpower Development Foundation and
  • Association of Construction Equipment Lessors, Inc.

The tech-voc positions identified by the construction sector are company-specific and region-specific. These companies have identified Human Resources requirements based on projects and contracts. Their training needs are quite focused; and they prefer to source employees from the locality where their projects are based. These companies had developed and implemented skills development programs with the support of TESDA. The industry's work with TESDA will continue for technical training and related programs; but their greatest concern today is the seeming unpreparedness of fresh Engineering graduates to accomplish tasks expected of new entrants to their workforce.

2. Competency Gaps

The Presidential Task Force on Education together with PCCI-UACT met with construction industry leaders to determine the critical positions where there are observed job-person mismatch.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) chaired by Mr. Eric Cruz of FF Cruz, Inc. identified entry level positions in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering as having the biggest competency gaps. They also identified competency expectations for engineers who have working experience of two years and above. Their research was premised on what they need today to remain competitive locally and internationally. They also benchmarked with competencies displayed by engineers from other countries, taking into consideration the Bologna Accord and the Washington Accord.

There were three sub-groups (civil, mechanical and electrical engineering) that meticulously identified the competency requirements for engineering jobs. The output is a detailed matrix of skills and competency requirements for entry-level cadet engineers, junior engineers with at least two years experience and senior engineers with at least four years experience. The requirements may be translated to curriculum improvements for the engineering undergraduate courses, as well as for graduate and continuing studies.

Construction TWG with PTFE, CHED, DepEd and university leaders

The detailed competency requirements were discussed with PTFE and some universities, CHED and the chairpersons of CHED's technical panels for engineering last April 30, 2010. It was agreed that the industry sector experts and the CHED technical panels will meet to discuss the competency requirements in depth. The technical panels will also use this as reference as they revisit the revised curriculum. CHED Chairman Dr. Angeles advised the panels to consider the Open Border agreement within ASEAN by 2015 where mutual recognition of degrees / professionals (engineering included) will take effect.

3. On-the-job training (OJT)

In the April 30 meeting, the OJT program was also discussed. This is the best venue for ensuring that communication between the industry and the academe sectors does happen. The OJT programs of the University of the East, MAPUA and APC were discussed as possible approaches for industry-academe partnerships.

The construction technical working group and the university belt universities will schedule a meeting to discuss possible initiatives for partnering. It is important that the OJT program will develop specific skills that are not classroom based. Mr. Cruz requested Dr. Ester Garcia (President, UE) and other universities to provide an OJT syllabus to participating companies so there can be focus on tasks/activities assigned to student trainees. The framework and details of partnering in the implementation of the OJT program will be discussed in subsequent meetings. Mr. Eric Cruz and Dr. Ester Garcia will take the lead for the construction sector and the academe sector, respectively. These two groups will also tackle the question on the number of hours needed for OJT to be a viable learning experience for the students.

4. Some Recommendations from the Construction Industry Technical Working Group

4.1. Improvement of the Quality of High School Graduates and Curriculum.

The TWG believes that one of the major obstacles to achieving the full potential of engineering students is the lack of mastery of key subjects (Science, Math and English) taken up in their high school education. The five years allotted for engineering deems insufficient because the first two years becomes a refresher program where subjects that should have been taught in high school are again repeated. The TWG believes that addressing this gap will contribute largely to the improvement of the quality of engineering students and programme in the country. (Capability expectations)

4.2 Ladderized Programme for Engineering

The TWG believes that a ladderized programme for engineering should be developed taking into high consideration the design of certification or competency-based programmes specific to the attainment of specialized field or skill relevant to the needs of the construction industry. Furthermore, a ladderized programme will allow the entry of individuals from vocational or associate programmes into the workforce as apprentice and later be provided with a platform to pursue higher education either in engineering or a specialized field of engineering. Such approach opens many options and opportunities both at the side of the industry and students to pursue related fields and competencies in engineering and construction.

4.3. Training Programmes (OJT)

The TWG proposes the harmonization of OJT programmes to match industry requirements relative to:

  • appropriate training and exposure to various industry activities and fields;
  • scheduling of projects where trainees can be properly designated to provide support; and,
  • collaboration/ partnership with universities to undertake manpower requisition for pool of OJTs as well as achievement of specific learning, skills and competencies after the on-the-job training.

Additionally, the TWG recommends the increase of OJT hours to a standard 480 hours with the appropriation of a uniform OJT programme across all engineering schools and universities.

Preliminary Report of the Construction Technical Working Group of PCCI to PTFE, Annex 1, February 17, 2010. Submitted by Amb. Donald G. Dee and Mr. Eric Cruz to Fr. B. Nebres, PTFE Chairman.

4.4. Tax Credit/ Incentives for Companies participating in OJT Programmes

The TWG deems it appropriate to a lobby for the provision of tax credits/ incentives for companies providing a standard rate of at least 75% of the minimum wage with appropriate benefits and allowances to their trainees. Using the BOI model of as a policy framework of Performance-based incentives, such as investment tax allowance, double deduction on training expenses, and double deduction on research and development, the TWG believes that such proposal will have an immediate positive effect to the performance of the trainees as well as provide assistance to students with meager resources to pursue their education. The said proposal can be enforced through a reporting mechanism by companies availing of the incentives at any given tax calendar.

4.5. Lending Window for Teacher Training through SSS or GSIS

The TWG proposes the opening of a lending window providing assistance to teachers and faculty members to obtain their masters or other certifications that will harness their mastery in the engineering field. This mechanism can be undertaken through the Social Security System or Government Social Insurance System where educational loans will be made available under low-interest, staggered payment set-up.

4.6 Continuing Learning Programmes

The TWG proposes the design of appropriate continuing learning programmes (i.e. "Advanced Course in Construction Management" or "MBA Programme" focused on Construction Management) by the academe to serve as additional competency reference for professionals who have attained some adequate years and expertise in the engineering practice. The TWG believes that providing platforms for specializations in the engineering field will improve the quality of the workforce at the same time enhance the value added and viability of the individuals in the profession.

4.7. Engineering Centers of Excellence

The TWG proposes the identification of "Engineering Centers of Excellence" which will be used a pilot colleges or universities that the industry can develop linkages with, in relation to:

  • curriculum development, implementation, monitoring and feedback;
  • dispatch of industry experts to work with the academe;
  • faculty training, immersion and exposure to industry;
  • On-the-Job Training; and,
  • Technology and infrastructure improvements and investments.

4.8. Review of the Construction Manpower Development Foundation (CMDF) Program

The TWG proposes for the government to revisit and improve the facility of Construction Manpower Development Foundation (CMDF) to make it as the centre laboratory of engineering firms for further enhancement of the human resource of the construction engineering industry.

The work of the Construction Industry, Academe and CHED had just begun. It is hoped that the initiatives of the construction industry, the schools and universities with Engineering courses and the Commission on Higher Education will continue to develop into a working model for continuing partnering. It is also hoped that their joint efforts will enhance the competitiveness of our construction industry and the competencies of our engineering professionals, both in the local and international markets.