Government urged to adopt digital skills program for small businesses

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government should collaborate with telecom firms and educational institutions to craft and implement a digital enablement strategy for Filipino workers and MSMEs, an advocacy group said.

“Investments in digital infrastructure will mean nothing if not complemented by investments in digital enablement,” said CitizenWatch Philippines co-convenor Orlando Oxales. “Ultimately, end-users of the technology have to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and predisposition to adapt to the changing times.”

Enabling Filipino workers and small businesses to digitally adapt is a way of empowering them and preparing them for the future, he said.

“Digital skills are life skills,” he said. “These days, whatever we do in our professional and personal life has a component of basic digital skills – inputting our transaction in the bank, booking a ride through an app, or attending a virtual meeting.”

Oxales said the collaboration should produce a roadmap on how our people and MSMEs can have the required skill sets to compete in a highly competitive digital economy.

“We always say nobody should be left behind; this is the perfect opportunity for the government to make good on that promise,” he said.

A study by the Asian Development Bank and LinkedIn showed that in the Asia Pacific region, 75 percent of employers reported a rise in demand for new hires with digital skills over the last five years. In the Philippines alone, 64 percent of employers are convinced of the same, and that six of the last 10 employees hired were required to have basic digital skills.

The report, called Digital Jobs and Digital Skills: A Shifting Landscape in Asia and the Pacific, found that most employers in the four countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines) now deem digital skills – such as proficiency with collaboration tools or basic internet skills for commerce – as essential workplace skills. Advanced skills such as coding and programming are also gaining ground.

The ADB said that the digital economy in Asia and the Pacific is growing at great speed, with e-commerce expected to reach $2 trillion by 2025.


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