Press Release
September 15, 2020

"Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act"

By Senator Joel Villanueva

Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

I am privileged and pleased to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1834 or the "Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act" under Committee Report No. 113.

This representation gentleman from Aurora, our seatmate, Senator Sonny Angara, are the principal author of this measure, co-authore Sen. Bong Revilla. This bill is in line with the broad vision towards Tatak Pinoy industrialization. Filipino enterprises, entrepreneurs, and professionals are empowered to move up the value chain, to produce quality goods and services, and to innovate.

We speak of the 4IR, or the fourth industrial revolution, refering to the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, augmented reality, robotics, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies[1] in the way we live, we work and relate with one another.

We were already having conversations, Mr. President, at TESDA about the rise of digital careers amid the 4IR back in 2010. We eventually partnered with the Animation Council of the Philippines, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Philippine Software Industry Association, and other IT-BPO industry associations for the development of training regulations on Game Programming, Animation, and Programming using Java and Oracle Database, among others. Right after the roll-out of these training programs, we have heard success stories on how our graduates landed freelance jobs immediately.

One of them was Omar Kevin Mohammad of Paranaque City. At first, he was hesitant to take up tech-voc because he thought that TESDA courses are "jologs". After much convincing from a friend, Omar enrolled in a Visual Graphics Design course. After obtaining a National Certificate III, he began gaining clients who sought his services as web designer.

Tor Sagud of Cabanatuan City was one of our pioneer trainees in 2D Digital Animation at the Cordillera School of Digital Arts. His certified skills gave him opportunities to get local and international clients. Tor, now based in Baguio City, is working as concept artist, comic illustrator, and animator for various local and international studios.

Tor has also published the book "IGOROTAK - An Illustrated Guide" and also started his own art studio, the "Studio Sagud".

Idagdag ko lang po, dahil alam kong matutuwa si Sen. Sonny para sa kanyang isinusulong na "Tatak Pinoy". Ang kwento sa atin ni Tor, huminto muna siya sa pagtanggap ng mga animation work abroad para makapag-focus siya sa paggawa ng mga original Filipino artwork. Co-Chairman din siya ng Gripo Comics which is devoted to reviving the Pinoy Comics Industry.

I met Omar and Tor in 2014. They told me how their skills opened up doors of opportunities for them, now that we are all experiencing the raging rivers of change fueled by digitization, augmentation, automation, among others.

Last year, Schneider Electric's "Industry Internet of Things" innovations transformed its Plant in Rosario, Cavite into the Philippines' first Smart Factory. Schneider Electric believes that digital transformation throughout the industrial value chain is critical and essential to global competitiveness. This transformation provided more than 1400 employees in Cavite with training, upskilling, and reskilling opportunities to help them take on higher-value jobs[2].

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines also set its eyes into the future global trends of the industry. Hence, most IT-BPM companies have began to pivot to digital enabled services and higher value jobs. Their target is by the year 2022, high skill jobs are performed by 27% of their talents from only 15% in 2016. This is equivalent to additional 309,000 highly skilled workers.[3]

In fact, IT-BPM is moving up the value chain in all sectors: Contact Center and BPO, IT Services, Animation, Global In-House Centers, and Healthcare Information Management, among others.

Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

On the foregoing context and for the following reasons, we seek approval of Senate Bill No 1834 or the "Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act":

First, to ensure the development of the country's digital workforce by equipping Filipinos with digital skills and with the 21st century skills. This will ensure that that Filipino workforce will benefit from the job opportunities provided by digital technologies (Section 4).

Our bill defines "digital workforce" as "any natural person who engages in remunerated activity through the use of digital skills and digital technology, regardless of work or employment arrangement, whether as a regular employee of a company or as a freelancer (Section 3d)".

Marami pong nawalan ng trabaho ngayong pandemya pero marami ring oportunidad dahil sa digital technology. Kailangan po nating pagtuunan ng pansin ang pagbibigay ng added labor value sa ating mga kababayan sa pamamagitan ng upgrading ng kanilang skills para makakakuha sila ng oportunidad sa mga digital careers o ma-promote kung nasa digital jobs na.

Sa pamamagitan ng panukalang batas na ito, maisasakatuparan o mahihigitan pa ng DICT ang target nitong 500,000 uneemployed Filipinos sa ating mga probinsya na maging globally-competitive digital workers sa taong 2022[4].

Second, to establish an Inter-Agency Council for Development and Competitiveness of the Philippine Digital Workforce. The council will be the primary planning, coordinating and implementing body in the promotion, development, enhancement, and competitiveness of the Philippine digital workforce (Section 5).

Third, to empower all local government units together with the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs). LGUs will create local policies supporting and promoting the growth and development of digital technology and digital careers and innovations in their respective communities. This includes [though not limited to] providing incentives for technological innovations for agri-fishery industries and hospital care or public health services (Section 7).

Bibigyang mandato rin ng panukalang batas na ito ang ating mga PESO hindi lang para magsagawa ng mga virtual job fair, kundi para bumuo rin ng mga localized digital technology at digital skills registry sa ating mga munisipyo (Section 8).

Fourth, to enter into public-private partnerships with experts, information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry associations, private companies, and other stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of training, skills development, and certification programs (Section 10).

Some of the programs that we included in the proposed measure are web development, online teaching, animation, content creation, digital marketing graphic designing, 3D modelling and CAD, game development, mobile application development, virtual assistance, business intelligence and data analytics, and transcription and data entry, among others (Section 10).

We received a proposal from "Connected Women"[5], a Filipino job-matching tech start-up which offers online skills development and remote work opportunities to women. The group was awarded as champion in the e-employment category in the World Summit for Information Society (WSIS) Forum held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Connected Women has an interesting training program called AIDA, short for "Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics". They sought TESDA's accreditation to train at least 1,000 women. They equipped them with data labelling skills to take on basic data annotation tasks like image identification, categorizing, and labelling.

Halimbawa, sa picture pong ito (refer to the PPT slide), i-a-identify po ng data labeler na ito ay kotse, ito ay bahay, ito train, ito kalsada, etc.

After the training, the women beneficiaries can work as digital freelancers through the Connected Women web platform. Napakagandang pagkakataon ang programang ito para mabigyan ng digital career ang mga kababaihan.

Fifth, the designation of the third week of June as the Digital Workforce Week (Section 11). This will promote awareness on evolving jobs and skills requirements in an era of digital technology and innovations. This will help disseminate information on government assistance, trainings and certifications, and digital career and business opportunities.

Lastly, to develop support mechanisms like digital libraries, learning hubs and co-working or shared service facilities.

Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

The failure to recognize and capitalize on the 4IR opportunities will impose considerable risks on our competitiveness as a nation. We need to pass this measure so that we can move beyond existing models of innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital growth.

We need a legal framework to promote and strengthen digital careers, to institutionalize employment standards for digital career workers, and to enhance competitiveness through access to necessary trainings, skills development, and scholarship programs.

In closing, allow me to state that while we are pushing this measure that will greatly advance the utilization of digital technology like robotics and artificial intelligence in many spheres of our lives, especially in the ways we relate, work, and earn a living, we already have set the "directional arrows" through the the "GMRC and Values Education Act". Thanks to our senate president Sotto, Sen Migs, chairman Wyn Gatchalian.

That is another good news.

We are confident that our people will not lose the values they cherish as we navigate our path through this momentous and transformational event in our history.

Maraming salamat po. God bless us all.

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