THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has released the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11927 (RA 11927), also known as the “Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act,” following consultations with relevant stakeholders. In a statement, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the implementation of the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act will be vital in equipping the workforce with digital technologies and skills. The IRR outlines the establishment of an Inter-Agency Council (IAC), which will be the primary planning, coordinating and implementing body that will promote, develop and enhance the competitiveness of the country’s digital workforce. The new law also tasks the IAC to formulate the National Roadmap on Digital Technology and Digital Skills, which shall serve as a basis for implementing programs that will upskill, re-skill and train the digital workforce in the country. Other IRR and RA 11927 highlights are: – DoLE shall lead the conduct of a comprehensive nationwide mapping of digital technology and digital skills to identify available digital skills and competencies, assess skills gaps, and determine the training needs of the workforce in digital technology sectors. The training requirements for re-skilling, upskilling and retooling of the workforce shall fit the target demographics and ensure their access to the appropriate digital platforms and ICT infrastructure. – The foregoing mapping will be the basis for the Council to formulate the National Roadmap on Digital Technology and Skills, which will contain strategies for skills development in specific professional areas, matching labor supply with market demand, and provision for scholarships and subsidies for training. – Upskilling, re-skilling and training programs to be implemented shall address identified skills gaps while ensuring that all Filipinos have access to globally competitive skills and competencies. Also, the implementation of training, skills development, and certification programs is being expanded to cover diverse skills needed in the digital era to include web development and design, online teaching and tutoring, animation, and various forms of content creation. A centralized online portal will be established to provide information on training and skills development, certifications, and scholarship programs. – In the spirit of public-private partnerships, the Council shall collaborate with various stakeholders for training, skills development, and certification programs in diverse areas aforementioned earlier to also include digital marketing, creative design, and mobile apps development. – LGUs shall craft local policies that support and promote the growth and development of digital technology as well as digital careers and innovation in their respective communities, which may include providing incentives for technological innovations in agro-fishery industries and hospital care or public health services. – To support the digital ecosystem envisioned in the IRR, DICT, in collaboration with the National Library of the Philippines, shall establish digital libraries and learning hubs to enhance digital inclusion and skills development. Likewise, the DTI, in coordination with the DICT and relevant government agencies and in partnership with the private sector, shall establish co-working or shared service facilities directed at the development and enhancement of digital skills and competencies of both current and future members of the digital workforce. Incidentally, digital workforce development is one of the four pillars of the country’s artificial intelligence roadmap, the other three pillars being digitization and infrastructure, research and development, and regulation. The AI roadmap has been triggered by projections that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030 and more than $92 billion to the Philippine economy. At the same time, more than 70 percent of enterprise leaders judge artificial intelligence to be the most disruptive over new and potentially competing technologies such as cloud computing and blockchain. It may be too early to say, but the national paradigms and roadmaps for digital transformation appear to be aligning, even if only at the conceptual stage. Here’s hoping for their eventual success in leveling up Filipino skills and technological maturity to world-class standards.

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