Collective efforts among gov’t, academe, and industry crucial to elevate the Filipino talent worldwide—GAIN

For the past years, labor has been the country’s biggest and most reliable export that brings in billions of dollars to the Philippine economy every year, according to the Bureau of Investment (BOI). As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, the Government Academe Industry Network or GAIN pointed out the need to elevate Filipino talent and ensure that they maintain their competitive advantage on the global stage.

Monette Iturralde-Hamlin, president of GAIN, led the call for meaningful collaboration among the key players and stakeholders to empower the mobilization of Filipino talent during the recent 6th GAIN National Convention at the AIM Conference Center—which focused on the theme “Internalization of Workforce: Global Talent Mobility through International Standards.”

“Things are changing so fast. We are making space for a more interconnected and interdependent world, and we need to make sure that Filipinos are prepared to get those jobs that they need to take care of their families and thrive,” she said in her opening remarks.

L-R: GAIN Chairman Dr. Peter Laurel, Ms. Ma. Christina Aquino, Dr. Genevieve Ledesma-Laurel, Ms. Grace Abella-Zata, and GAIN President Ms. Monette Iturralde-Hamlin

Setting the standard

Dr. Jose Cueto Jr., commissioner of the Professional Regulation Commission, explained how the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) is used to measure the skills of Filipino professionals to determine their level of knowledge, skills, and their ability to apply them in the real world. 

The PQF, according to Cueto, is designed to support academic and worker mobility and to address mismatches in job skills. He also described how the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) can be used in comparison to the country’s own framework to determine how the skills of a Filipino professional measure up to professionals of other countries. 

However, Cueto admitted that “Not many organizations in the government, academe, and industry have the mastery of the PQF/AQRF qualifications.”

Meanwhile, a highly skilled workforce is one that adheres to international standards, said BOI governor Atty. Marjorie Ramos-Samaniego. “Trends are changing, and new industries developed will change the way we look at the workforce. Our goals and targets might change, but our objective will remain the same: to uplift the ideal that the Filipino workforce is the best in the world,” she added.

Compliance with international standards is non-negotiable in industries such as banking and healthcare, said Roderick Danao, chairman of PwC Philippines. He highlighted that with the banking and financial industry hinging on consumer trust, standards ensure that financial transactions are conducted fairly and efficiently.

The healthcare sector, meanwhile, is a “complex, dynamic sector driven by demographic changes, technological disruptions, and evolving healthcare needs,” according to Nora Terrado, CEO of Carelon Global Solutions. She noted that Filipinos have already set the standard for healthcare professionals abroad, citing the top performance of Filipino nurses in the U.S. National Council Licensure Examination from 2022 to 2023.

Elevating the talent in other industries

The most recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed an increase in the number of overseas Filipino workers in 2021, with an estimated 1.83 million compared to the 1.77 million recorded in 2020. One challenge, however, is to maintain Filipino workers’ competitive advantage, especially in the midst of digital transformation and the rise of AI adoption, according to Ramos-Samaniego. For Gerardo Borromeo, CEO of Philippine Transmarine Carriers, this can be achieved by encouraging the Filipino youth to pursue the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM strand in senior high school.

Skills development will also be key to succeeding in an automated workforce, according to Clarissa Segismundo, Microsoft’s Head of Education and Skilling Program. Citing the 2023 Work Trend Index Report, Segismundo explained that business leaders will need to equip their employees with the right AI skills such as analytical judgment, flexibility, and emotional intelligence, among others.

Collaborative efforts among government agencies, the academe, and industry stakeholders are already underway, as Frankie Antolin, Executive Director for Talent Attraction and Development at the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), talked about the association’s Skills Progression Program as an example. It is a collaboration between IBPAP and the Commission on Higher Education that aims to create training programs that will be integrated into the curricula of higher education institutes.

However, representatives from the government, academe, and different industries admitted that there is still much work to be done. Peter Laurel, chairman of GAIN, called on the participants to align their efforts in working towards the shared goal of developing a globally competitive Filipino workforce.

“Let us all bring our learnings from today to our respective fields and industries and work together to not only meet but also push the boundaries of international standards when it comes to work excellence. This is a prime opportunity to not just elevate Filipino talent but also excel and thrive in the global landscape,” he said.