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Davao business leader bats for focus, convergence on future-of-work

DAVAO CITY (PIA) -- The newly installed president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) is advocating the focus on capacity building and convergence of efforts to prepare Davao City’s workforce for the advent of the future of work.

The future of work  is a term which describes changes on how work will get done over the next decade, and that is influenced by technological, generational and social shifts.

Belinda Torres, the new DCCCII president, said that based on initial focused group discussions with the different business sectors within the chamber, they have identified two issues which are ease of doing business and capacity building among the workforce.

“Capacity building translates to generating more workforce and to expand business and scalability,” Torres said during her guesting at the One Davao Presser of Philippine Information Agency XI recently.

Torres said that one of the drivers she wants to focus on to improve job generation and job creation is the future of work.

“Research and Development is something we have to work on to determine the future of work. For instance, AI (artificial intelligence) where analytical judgment should be there, and empathy plus several more requirements,” Torres said.

However, the present skills are not aligned with industry demand, which is steadily shifting to the future of work.

Citing Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) figures, the unemployment rate in Davao Region was at 3.5 percent in the 3rd Quarter of 2023 which is higher compared to 2.9 percent in the 3rd Quarter of 2022. And the underemployment rate of 7.7 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2022 went up to 13.8 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2023.

Torres said one of the factors in the hike in unemployment and underemployment is that the workforces’ skills and competencies are not aligned with what the industry is looking for.

“We have to make realignment to the skills we need to provide. How can we create and generate jobs if the skills that we have are not aligned with the industry requirement and the future of work,” Torres said.

DCCCII new board of trustee. Pres. Torres plans to put sectoral vice presidents of the chamber to tandem with universities to help capacitate the incoming workforce.

The chamber president, who is also the CEO of eJobs Solutions, a company focusing on capacity building IT workers through education, said that there many incoming ICT and BPO (business process outsourcing) locators in Davao City and are hiring and looking for more skilled personnel.

To address the current need for human resources, Torres said they are working with universities to capacitate the current workforce.

Working with universities

 “We are actually working with universities right now, we develop programs for them, this is for the purposes of improving communication skills. Because there is actually two evidences that showed college graduates here in the Philippines are too low, not just below the standard requirements of CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Meaning to say their English proficiency instead of C1-C2 we are basically B1-B2. We have to make sure we have to come up with programs  that will improve English proficiency and communication skills on an international level,” Torres said.

And as chamber president, Torres is planning to tandem the sectoral vice presidents of the chamber to a particular university geared towards an economic growth driver.

For these industry drivers they would be focusing on Davao City’s priority sectors such as ICT, agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing.

“We have to determine which sector will give us the greatest number of jobs that can be generated or created. It's either having a high value crop of jobs which are high quality and highly skilled which the presence of it makes you globally competitive or low-lying fruits jobs which are in quantity,” Torres said.

To track the progress of this initiative they would have key performance indicators to measure the advancement from the baseline which have already been determined.

And aside from partnering with universities Torres says government partnership is essential in preparing the workforce for the coming changes.

“The realignment would need policy changes as some policies would limit the academe in rolling out programs intended for the future of work,” Torres said.

She said they cannot just rely on one sector as it needs the government, academe and private sector helping each other to respond to the gap brought by the increasing demand coming from new investors. (RGA/PIA Davao)

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Rudolph Ian Alama

Regional Editor

Region 11

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