ADB Board of Governors Chairman and Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and ADB Country Director Neeraj K. Jain signs memorandum of understanding for a $650,000 ADB technical assistance to the Philippines to establish “knowledge hubs” at the country’s higher education institutions as part of efforts to align school curricula to the needs of the information technology-business process outsourcing sector. Also present at the signing are Joel Mangahas (leftmost side), education specialist of ADB’s South East Asia Department and ADB Director-General Kunio Senga (rightmost side).
“KNOWLEDGE hubs” will be established by the government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in chosen colleges and universities nationwide in order to support the continued growth of the information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry, an agreement signed yesterday said.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will extend technical assistance worth $650,000 to the IT-BPO sector was signed yesterday by the government, through the Finance department, and the ADB. The signing was held on the sidelines of the 45th ADB Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors happening in Manila from May 2 to 5.
“IT-BPO is the fastest-growing employment and one of the highest revenue generating sectors in the country. In 2010, the country surpassed India in terms of voice related outsourced work to become the global leader in this area. The industry is now moving up the value chain from voice-based services (e.g., call centers) toward knowledge-based activities,” the MoU said.
“Improving national competitiveness, moving into knowledge-based services, and achieving and maintaining rapid economic progress, would require an educated workforce equipped with skills that meet the demands of high-growth industries,” it added.
The three-year program aims to align the curriculum of higher education institutions (HEI) with the needs of the IT-BPO sector through “a replicable and sustainable model of ICT-enabled knowledge hubÂ for improved teaching and learning of IT-BPO industry-based curriculum in HEIs.”
A total of $500,000 will be sourced from the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund by the ADB, while the Philippine government will provide the remaining $150,000 “in kind contributions.”
At least three hubs will be established in the country with one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the MoU stated. All hubs will be ICT-enabled and provide â€œonline trainingâ€ to teachers and â€œdigitized learning modules and study guidesâ€ for students.
A “standard industry-based” instrument and “assessment tools” that shall measure student and teacher competencies and progress will also be financed as well as the accreditation and integration of various IT-BPO courses being offered by the industry and the government.
The MoU said at least 900 faculty members and 3,000 college-level students, of which at least 50% are females, will benefit from the program.
A steering committee chaired by the Finance department with members from the Commission on Higher Education, National Economic and Development Authority, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines and “other government agencies,” will also be established to oversee the agreement’s implementation.
Revenues from the IT-BPO industry, one of the priority areas of the Aquino administration, have consistently grown by double-digit figures over the past decade. In 2011, data from the Board of Investments showed IT-BPO revenues grew by 24% to roughly $11 billion with the industry employing 638,000 people as full-time employees.
The government targets to make IT-BPO a $25-billion industry by 2016 and had ever since embarked on various programs to move up the value chain. The Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, for example, had initiated separate programs to support IT-BPO growth, while the Business Processing Association of the Philippines had also its own.
ADB Board of Governors Chairman and Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, who signed the MoU for the government, said on Wednesday: “We are happy that the ADB, through this technical assistance, has solidified its support to the Aquino administration’s thrust in achieving a sustainable and inclusive growth over the longer-term.”
“The IT-BPO sector has been one of the sunshine industries in the Philippines and sustaining its performance has been the priority of this government as we believe on its potential to generate jobs and in the process, boost demand and growth in the country,” the Finance chief added.