A new year has begun for the Management Association of the Philippines. As in the past years, our activities for 2019 will be guided by a theme. For this year, it is “SHAPING A COMPETITIVE FUTURE.”
Our theme is a nod to our mission, but it also recognizes the power of the business community to impact, and indeed help shape the country’s future. In line with this, MAP will focus on the following priority programs for 2019 in order to help shape a competitive future for the country:
The first priority for 2019 will be advocacies to improve ease of doing business and Philippine competitiveness.
MAP will continue working with the government to improve the ease of doing business in the Philippines so that we can attract more local and foreign investments, create more jobs, and ensure inclusive growth.
This is not to say that the government has been idle. Indeed, many measures have been enacted in the past few years, from reducing the number of steps and turnaround times in various processes, to implementing online transaction processing in many areas, to improving our infrastructure.
The implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Act, which President Duterte signed in May 2018, will hopefully further contribute to improving our ranking in the coming years. But much remains to be done, particularly on simplifying regulatory processes and building infrastructure. For the latter, there are the more obvious ones of roads, bridges and airports.
Then there’s the digital world, a key area for future competitiveness, where laws and regulations are lagging the advancement in technology, and our infrastructure and capabilities are sorely behind those of other nations. In the 2018 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, by the International Institute for Management Development, we ranked 56th out of 63 countries, dropping 10 places from 2017’s 46th spot. We remain one of the worst-ranked in the Asia-Pacific, ranking 12th of 14. In the vital areas of communications technology and internet speed, we rank 62nd and 61st, respectively – almost dead last.
Implementing and improving digital services and ensuring that the laws and regulations governing them facilitate their growth not only contributes to ease of doing business, but are also vital in keeping our businesses, and our country as a whole, competitive.
Our second priority for 2019 will be programs to help develop human capital in the country.
Prior to 2012, the Philippines was one of only three countries in the world and the only one in Asia that had only 10 years of basic education. The K-12 program and the increased focus on STEM subjects brought us more in line with world standards, but we must do our part as corporate citizens by creating opportunities for K-12 graduates to be hired into the workplace.
Development of digital capabilities is critical. The World Economic Forum estimates that as of 2018 humans accounted for 71% of the total work hours done by humans and machines. By 2022, that is expected to decline to 58%, and by 2025, only 48% of work will be done by humans. Think about that – that is only 6 years away!
Not only is it imperative that we transform our business models for the digital world, but perhaps more importantly, how do we prepare our workforce for that new world? Automation is expected to displace 75 million jobs worldwide by 2022, but it will also create an estimated 133 million new jobs. But these are not the jobs we know – these are jobs in areas such as data science and analytics and artificial intelligence, jobs which didn’t even exist a few years ago.
Digital competitiveness is measured in terms of knowledge, technology, and future-readiness.
While the government needs to do its part to develop our human capital through improving our educational system, providing support for science, technology and innovation, and upskilling our teachers, we also need to do ours.
It is estimated that more than half our workforce will need significant re-skilling and upskilling, requiring anywhere from 3 months to a year. Indeed, even the skills of executive leadership and the human resources function will need to evolve. It’s not just new technical skills that may be needed but also a different management mindset, one that is attuned to a far more diverse workforce and open to new management models such as part-time workers, work-from-home, and partnering to get the skills required.
Our third priority will be initiatives to promote inclusive growth and sustainability.
I am a firm believer that growth is not sustainable if we cannot help the lower demographic segments of the population achieve prosperity. Creating the clients of the future requires bringing them above that line.
Poverty reduction requires sustained effort from all sectors – creating more jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers, continuing to boost the quality of basic education, improving natural disaster risk management and protection, and improving productivity, especially in agriculture.
I would also like to mention a subject close to my heart. Wharton studies of various countries have shown that financial literacy accounts for a third of the wealth gap in nations. In the Philippines, studies continue to show poor financial literacy among all demographic segments. MAP can help close that gap with financial literacy initiatives for members and for the general population.
Shaping a competitive future and getting to where we want to go is a daunting task, and it often seems like we can never catch up with our neighbors. It can’t be done by government alone, or business alone. Indeed, it needs the work of all sectors of society, and none of us will likely ever know what everyone else is doing. But if each of us pitches in and does our part as best we can, we CAN get to that future to which we all aspire!
(This article was lifted from the Inaugural Speech delivered by the author as the President of the Management Association of the Philippines for 2019. The author is Chair of Sun Life Financial Philippine Holding Co., Inc. and former CEO and Country Head of Sun Life Financial Philippines. Feedback at <email@example.com> and <Rizalina.Mantaring@sunlife.com.>. For previous articles, please visit <map.org.ph>).