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Filipino youth must improve other skill sets to address emerging workplace challenges

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A team of researchers published a study citing the need for educators and industry leaders to improve existing frameworks aimed at enhancing the ‘transversal competencies’ (TVCs) of younger employees, so they can still thrive amid new workplace challenges posed by emerging technologies.

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) reported that some Filipino youth entering the workforce these days fall short of these TVCs, also known as “soft skills,” impacting not only their career prospects, but also the country’s economic competitiveness and innovation potential.

PIDS released its findings in a paper titled “Toward Measuring Soft Skills for Youth Development: A Scoping Study,” authored by a group of university professors and research specialists. Among the traits that younger workers reportedly have to learn are adaptability and collaboration.  

“As we move deeper into the 21st century, the need for a workforce proficient in TVCs becomes increasingly critical,” said the authors namely De La Salle University professor Allan Bernardo and researchers Jose Ramon Albert, Jana Flor Vizmanos, and Mika Muñoz.

“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,” they underscored.

The UNESCO International Center for Technical and Vocational Education Training defines transversal skills as those “not specifically related to a particular job, task, academic discipline or area of knowledge,” but can be used in a wide variety of situations and work settings.

Examples include critical and innovative thinking, effective communication and organization skills, teamwork, self-discipline, self-motivation, respect for diversity, intercultural understanding, media and information literacy or the ability to locate and access information, as well as analyze media content.

The PIDS study narrowed it to critical thinking, inter- and intrapersonal skills, particularly on the capacity of individuals to adapt to changing workplace environments, which helps build resilience amid evolving challenges.  

“Though the authors acknowledge the widespread importance given to TVC, a consistent definition across different sectors remains elusive. This lack of clarity hinders measuring and developing these crucial skills,” the institute said in its report.

The authors also noted that although the focus on TVCs is prominent in educational frameworks, it is equally important to establish the same in the labor and professional sectors. This is to ensure that students or new graduates are competent to handle the demands of their future workplaces.

But dedicated assessment tools for TVCs are limited, leading to poor integration within school activities, pre-employment interviews, and task observations. “Some TVCs, such as adaptability and self-regulation, might be better assessed through real-world observations over time,” the authors said.

“A comprehensive strategy is needed to consider the purpose, domains, and types of assessments for TVCs,” the authors added. This strategy should not only support ongoing human capital development but also identify current workforce competency gaps.


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