The shortage of qualified digital professionals in the Philippines has been drastically growing for the past several years. According to Asian Development Bank and LinkedIn, 75% of employees saw a demand for them at various levels after the pandemic.
Moreover, the most in-demand skills in every industry were SQL and Java. According to APEC, the lack of data analytical skills increased by 131 percent in the last five years and has been growing since 2015.
However, the current higher education system cannot satisfy the market needs. Though digitalization is already taking place and university education has been improving continuously over the past few years, the changes in the digital sphere are too drastic to maintain.
Most university graduates often don’t have the appropriate skillset to get employed. Higher education is also not just pretty expensive; it’s also time-consuming. It is especially the case for “reskillers”–people willing to change their current occupation and acquire a new one.
According to Jobstreet, at least 77 percent of employed individuals are open to acquiring new skills to change their job. However, these people who want higher education don’t have the time or money for it.
The emergence of online schools that aim to provide education for people looking to start a career in the digital field from scratch is addressing this problem. Mc Gee Alda Acebedo, a 41-year-old Filipino, tried it for himself.
In July this year, he decided to try Data Analysis and enrolled in a Refocus online course. He got employed by a USA-based company only three months later.
Mc Gee received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Santo Tomas. For nine years, he worked in a contacts center before, where he established his career there as a Level 3 Technical Support Agent position.
He handled network-related tasks and dealt with the contact center’s products and services. However, the job compensation wasn’t enough for a person with a family, and he also started to get bored with the same daily tasks.
“I felt that moving up was nowhere in sight, and the job was already starting to become routinary. Being a Cisco engineer was in my plan, but somehow, I always put it off for some reason,” he says.
But something disrupted the illusive stability he enjoyed. When his contract ended two years ago, he couldn’t find a stable job. None of his efforts from side hustles in various fields became long-term, adding more to his distress.
That was when he saw the Refocus advertisement. The opportunity to become a data analyst fascinated him.
“It seemed to me that data analysis was what I wanted to do. I like to sort things out, find solutions, and analyze. I became very interested in how this applies to raw data. But most importantly, it looked like a profession that could help me develop my career and provide for my family,” Mc Gee said.
Since he had already attained higher education and had to work, an online course like this was the best choice for him. It caters to adults working full-time jobs, so only relevant skills are taught. He had tried studying something before on his own, but it wasn’t effective because he didn’t receive feedback.
Another crucial thing for Mc Gee was the job guarantee that Refocus provided. If he could not find a job after taking the course and completing all the tasks, he would still receive compensation. He did not risk anything but took on the responsibility of learning something quite marketable and getting feedback from experienced data analysts for every task simultaneously.
But payback was not his case—it took him just three months to get hired as a Data Analyst.
Interestingly, he initially applied for another position but saw a vacancy for a data analyst and asked if he could transfer to the rank later. But a day later, he was advised to go straight for an interview for this position – and he got it!
Now, Mc Gee effectively juggles many things. He helps his son with his studies, works the night shift, and continues to study alone.
Although he has enough skills to find a job, there’s still a lot to broaden and polish, so he sometimes watches lessons even during work hours. He says it helps him learn how to perform his tasks more effectively.
“I’m happy I decided to take a risk and got this opportunity. It’s great that they create courses for adults to get educated for a particular profession without having to study alone or attend university once again,” he admits. “It’s not easy to combine proper education with work, but everyone can do it if they find what motivates them to grow. For me, it’s my family.”
Learning is a constant part of life. With Refocus, Mc Gee joins those who enjoy acquiring new skills and knowledge, furthering their careers, and spending time doing what they love with who they love.