Senate approves bill enhancing PH digital workforce competitiveness
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that aims to enhance the country’s digital workforce competitiveness.
Voting 18-0-0, the upper chamber passed Senate Bill No. 1834 or the proposed Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act.
The bill tasks the government to “ensure and take proactive measures to improve the digital competence of all citizens of working age and equip them with digital skills, including digital entrepreneurship and remote work using digital skills in order to gain from the benefits of the growing number of jobs and opportunities that are enabled by digital technologies.”
Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee and sponsor of the measure, said the bill “introduces a legal framework or paradigm in terms of providing the necessary digital infrastructures and upskilling the Filipino workforce on digital technology and innovations.”
“Mr. President, ‘life is digital.’ Kailangan po tayong makipagsabayan [We need to keep up]. We need to catch up and jump on board because the movement to digital life is fast and real,” he said after the measure’s passage.
If enacted into law, the bill also establishes the “Inter-Agency Council for Development and Competitiveness of Philippine Digital Workforce.”
The council will be “the primary planning, coordinating and implementing body in the promotion, development, enhancement and competitiveness of the Philippine digital workforce,” according to the measure.
It is tasked to ensure that “all Filipino youth, students and workers have access to and are provided with skills and competencies in digital contents, platforms and technology that are at par with global standards, and shall encourage digital innovations and entrepreneurship,” it added.
“It shall consult and collaborate with all stakeholders from the government, industry and labor sector in the development and implementation of a national roadmap on upskilling, re-skilling and training of the Filipino workforce to address the skills gaps particularly, in digital technology and digital entrepreneurship,” it further stated.
The proposed Inter-Agency Council for Development and Competitiveness of Philippine Digital Workforce will be chaired by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and composed of the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Trade and Industry (DTI), Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Science and Technology (DOST).
The Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Education (DepED), as well as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will also be part of the said council.
“[T]he challenge for us is to enhance the digital skills of our people through formal education and training and lifelong learning opportunities,” Villanueva pointed out.
“Hindi po natin sinasabi na hindi pa ito ginagawa ngayon especially ng DepEd, TESDA, CHED, DICT, DTI, DOLE, DOST, etc. pero mas maganda kung whole-of-government ang approach natin o mayroon tayong Inter-Agency Council for Development and Competitiveness of Philippine Digital Workforce,” he added.
(We are not saying that this is not being done already, especially by the DepEd, TESDA, CHED, DICT, DTI, DOLE, DOST, etc. but it would be better if we pursue this with a whole-of-government approach or with the Inter-Agency Council for Development and Competitiveness of Philippine Digital Workforce.)