Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday said the next administration should focus on the country’s digital economy as COVID-19 cases continue o decline.
“All sectors of the economy are expecting to bounce back from the pandemic,” he said.
While the next administration will have its hands full protecting broad sectors such as agriculture, he said it should also catch up with the fast-evolving digital economy.
“Digital skills can be developed through formal education, informal instruction, or training, which makes the digital workforce very dynamic in terms of learning and employment,” Villanueva said.
He noted that “the next administration would be dealing with the fourth, or even fifth, industrial revolution,” as digital careers have gained even more strength during the pandemic.
“We are already playing catch up rather than staying ahead of the digital revolution. The Filipino workforce should benefit from the opportunities the digital economy provides, so the government should support them through skills training, digital upskilling, and making them competitive,” he said.
Villanueva added that digital careers in the country continue to flourish as it allows for alternative working arrangements such as work-from-home, addressing concerns such as traffic congestion, rising oil prices, as well as the need for work-life balance.
At the same time, the senator warned that the 86.7 percent forecasted growth for e-commerce jobs could potentially widen the job-skills mismatch in the country if not quickly addressed by the government.
The chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources said that he is hoping that the Senate Bill No. 1834, or the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act, would be passed right after the May 9 elections. Villanueva sponsored and authored the said bill, and is currently on second reading at the Senate plenary.
S.B. 1834 seeks to ensure all Filipino workers have access to and provided with digital skills competencies at par with global standards, and encourage digital innovations and entrepreneurship.
The proposed law also empowers all local government units to create local policies supporting and promoting the growth and development of digital technology and digital careers in their respective communities.
Public-private partnerships with experts, information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry associations and other related industries are also empowered by the bill to pursue the formulation and implementation of training, skills development, and certification programs.
The senator added that the country’s IT infrastructure and access to fast and reliable internet connection should be improved to support the rise of e-commerce and digital careers.
According to the 2021 Digital Skills Gap Index, the Philippines ranks 51st out of 134 countries in terms of digital skills, and 80th in digital competitiveness.
He made the remark as the Philippines received a positive business outlook from the Job Outlook Survey commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The benchmark survey reported that the Philippines has a high employment growth forecast of 86.7 percent for e-commerce jobs.
The Job Outlook Survey also reported that most companies in the country are hiring for positions that require digital skills, such as Digital Marketing Specialists, Social Media Specialists, Content Strategists, and Data Analysts.