PIDS: Pinoy workers lack ‘soft skills’ for digital age

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
PIDS: Pinoy workers lack �soft skills� for digital age
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MANILA, Philippines — Filipino workforce lack soft skills like adaptability, problem-solving and collaboration needed to adapt to emerging technologies, which could have consequences on the country’s competitiveness and ability to innovate, according to a new study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a discussion paper titled “Toward Measuring Soft Skills for Youth Development: A Scoping Study,” authors De La Salle University distinguished university professor and university fellow  Allan Bernardo, PIDS senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert, former supervising research specialist Jana Flor Vizmanos and research analyst Mika Muñoz, found that the current workforce often lack soft skills or transversal competencies (TVC) needed to thrive amid technological advancements like artificial intelligence,  as they were largely trained for a pre-digital era.

The authors said the gap is evident in terms of adaptability and continuous lifelong learning, problem-solving, and collaboration across digital platforms.

Without skills like adaptability and collaborative problem-solving, they said workers would not be ready to respond to the needs of the changing labor market.

“This gap not only affects individual career prospects but also has broader implications for economic competitiveness as well as innovation and productivity,” the authors said.

As such, having a workforce equipped with TVC is critical.

“Addressing this gap requires a concerted effort from educational institutions, policymakers and industry leaders to redefine skills development frameworks and prioritize the cultivation of these essential competencies,” the authors said.

While the importance of TVC is recognized, they said the lack of a consistent definition across different sectors pose a challenge in measuring and developing these crucial skills.

The PIDS study underscored the need to clarify and understand the TVC in the context of evolving job demands.

It also highlighted the need to equip schools with tools and resources to effectively teach TVC.

In addition, the study emphasized the importance of collaboration with industry leaders to ensure the educational programs are aligned with real-world job demands.

“A comprehensive strategy is needed to consider the purpose, domains, and types of assessments for TVC,” the authors said, noting such should go beyond supporting ongoing human capital development but also identify gaps in the competencies of the workforce.

“Ultimately, such a strategy will be crucial in cultivating a future-proof and competent Filipino workforce,” the authors said.

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