Business As Usual

Education, technology use vital in upgrading workers’ skills set

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Education, technology use vital in upgrading workers� skills set
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala

MANILA, Philippines — As the future of work requires new skills, companies are urged to invest in improving the skill set of their employees by enabling continuing education and utilizing technology.

Speaking at the Rethinking the Future of Work to Promote Inclusive Growth in Asia Pacific forum organized by global financial services firm J.P. Morgan and educational organization Asia Society, Ayala Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said there is a need for companies to enable continued education for their employees to prepare them for the changing requirements of work in the future.

 “On the corporate side, companies need to provide more opportunities for continuous learning, leveraging on technologies,” he said.

This, as he said the rise of new industries and jobs in the future requires new skills which organizations do not have at present.

In particular, he said there would be demand for some technical skills which include programming, computer science, as well as data science.

In addition to technical skills, high demand is also seen for social and complex cognitive skills like leadership, creativity, communications, and critical thinking, as well as for soft skills which cover having the curiosity and courage to pursue new ideas, empathy for customer pains, agility to pivot and ability to recover.

Zobel said the skills would require a change in teaching methods in educational institutions by putting more focus on nurturing practical skills.

To prepare its employees, he said the Ayala group has launched an initiative called Ayala University which serves as an internal hub for continuing education.

The initiative is being undertaken with Degreed, a learning platform which enables users to build their skills.

Through the initiative, Zobel said the aim is to consolidate some of the best educational resources like e-books, videos and podcasts available to empower employees to upskill themselves.

In the same event, Jordi Prat Tuca, technical officer for enterprise development and skills at the International Labor Organization (ILO), called on companies to consider investing in improving the skills of their employees, particularly women.

Based on key findings of the ILO in countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia,  women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sectors are 50 percent more likely than men to be employed in an occupation at high risk due to automation.

In the Philippines, he said 18 million workers are at risk  due to automation.

At present, women in STEM sectors in the three Southeast Asian countries are also employed predominantly in entry level jobs with poor job quality.

In addition, traditional low skilled-jobs performed by women across key economic sectors are declining and shifting to more skilled occupations.

As such, Tuca encouraged companies to work with the ILO which is implementing a program in improving women’s capabilities particularly in STEM skills.

The program involves creation of mechanisms for employers to provide sustainable in-company lifelong opportunities for women, as well as collaborating with ILO constituents to improve school-to-work transition and integration of female workers into the labor market.

He said participation in the ILO’s program has yielded positive results by increasing workers’ motivation and productivity, facilitating access to quality employment, reducing turnover, boosting employability, as well as improving worker-employee relations.

 “I call on private sector here and government to join us, to join our program in assisting workers,” he said.

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