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IBM urges gov’t, schools: Develop flexible IT professionals

By Erwin Oliva
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:46:00 05/14/2008

Filed Under: Technology (general), Education, Labor, Employment

MAKATI City, Philippines -- IBM is working with the Philippine government and several local universities to help develop information technology (IT) service professionals ready to take on jobs from day one.

IBM urged government to seriously look into the state of university and college education, which currently produces graduates that have to be retrained for at least a year to fit the demands of the growing IT-related services industry.

To date, IBM employs about 8,000 Filipinos in the country to work on global sourcing projects coming from within the global IBM organization and clients worldwide.

With about 75 percent of its business now in software and services, IBM has realized that it needs more graduates who are not only smart, but also multi-faceted.

"In the last five years, IBM has changed into a globally integrated enterprise," said Stephen Braim, vice president for government programs for IBM Asia Pacific, in an interview.

He said that such change has prompted IBM to train more people not only on technical but also "soft-skills," he added.

Braim said IBM is going around different countries in Asia, including the Philippines, to discuss with academicians and government a relatively new program that "cherry-picks" from different courses offered in existing disciplines and combine them into a curriculum fashioned for the IT services industry.

IBM calls this new field the service science, management and engineering or SSME, said Braim.

"Skills that we need are multi-disciplinary and globally focused," he added. In short, we need graduates who are flexible.

IBM is scheduled to meet with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology this week. It is also in talks with the "big five" universities in the country, sad Alejandro Melchor III, governmental programs executive of IBM Philippines.

"We're currently working on what we can do in the Philippines," Braim said.

The IBM executive said that companies like IBM will continue to pour investments in countries where there is a good supply of skills they need to man their global operations.

"If the Philippines invests in IT services development, then investments will flow. If skills are not there, we can't bring those investments in," he added. "So it is critical for the Philippines to get it right."

The SSME currently goes beyond the development of technical skills required for IT services. It includes people skills, knowledge of global economics, and other non-IT courses necessary to become an effective IT services professional.

Schools, he said, remain the biggest source of talent and skills for the IT services industry, he said.



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