MAPping the Future

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Skills mismatch: Industry’s role (1st of 2 Parts)

written by Mr. FEDERICO "Poch" M. MACARANAS - August 21, 2023

(First of two parts)

To solve the complex problems of the skills mismatch in the Philippine economy at this point of fast-changing technologies, which sector has to make a major first step?

The problem: It is effortless to say everyone must take immediate short-term steps for long-term employment and entrepreneurship prospects, since very few can even feel for these as talents produced do not fit the dramatically changing needs.

Schools can prepare students for future jobs—but these have yet to be practically defined in curricular offerings beyond the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s 4Cs of 21st Century Learning (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity)—which few research universities can foresee, even as the country’s national scientists and technologists launched more than a year ago a foresight document through 2050 for four specific areas where science, technology and innovation matter:

Cluster I: Health, food systems, nutrition

Cluster II: Energy and water

Cluster III: Environment, climate change and space exploration

Cluster IV: Shelter, transportation and other infrastructure.

National and local governments can support talent training in both industries of business goods and services, including education, health, agriculture extension work, cybersecurity services in the maritime sector, etc. but few are applying new technologies that constantly change (new versions of apps, new factory systems with artificial intelligence (AI), new transport models, etc.) in the face of new markets, clearly not the mettle even of the well-intentioned officials of bureaucratic agencies.

Community groups that address deep concerns of very feudal societies where economic power is controlled by very few families—they can be more creative in forging production ventures (smart farms and cooperatives, models of competing while simultaneously cooperating along the supply chain of large businesses). But they are not as adept in forecasting technology use across industries.

Indeed, none among governments, communities or education players can quickly sense these major drivers of businesses faster than those who want to expand their use beyond report-writing and entertainment, as ChatGPT adoption suggests. It seems the industry sector has to show the way for the others to join the whole-of-nation approach in solving the deeply felt mismatch.

Industry voices on mismatch

This was a major finding from the industry voices that resonated with the academic experts: a mix of business CEOs with training interests and their university counterparts with business interests other than in education. These were heard at the 31st edition of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)-Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Management Educators Workshop held in late July at the West Visayas State University (WVSU) in Iloilo City, bolstered by a tripartite agreement signed by the presidents of the three institutions, MAP president Benedicta Du-Baladad, AIM president Jikyeong Kang and WVSU president Joselito Villaruz.

Olive Limpe-Aw, president of Destileria Limtuaco, for example, shared the story of how she had managed to vet the consumer salesmanship course to an audience of around a hundred top university officials (presidents and deans), business, government and community leaders in solving the Philippines skills mismatch.

Limpe-Aw noted that of 1,392 new and emerging skills identified by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), she found that only six of these were covered by courses with specific competencies identified for practical assessment leading to skills certification. Although a new bill for the latter is being proposed in this regard through the Second Congressional Commission on Education—and the President has commended technical-vocational education for employment in his recent State of the Nation Address— the country needs serious industry engagement here.

These are specifically in defining competencies for jobs yet to surface in the fast-changing world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution combining digital, biological, engineering and other physical sciences. As reported by university presidents in the Commission on Higher Education course at AIM on Global Academic Leadership Program, however, many Philippine small and medium enterprises are not even in the digitalization stage.

Business agility was what made Limpe-Aw succeed in converting Destileria Limtuaco’s alcoholic beverage business (siok-tong to brandy, rhum and liqueur) into sanitizing products at the height of COVID-19. Even without infusing large investments that define medium-term planning, her firm found a short-term problem in the lack of marketing skills of people she had earlier hired and retrained. The long-term changed business model of AI-mediated production and distribution work indeed calls for other micro-credential courses.

While approved by the Tesda director-general, the competency standard-setting for salesmanship level II that she had requested hit a wall. She had to take the bull by its horn, by preparing with her own resources in one intensive month a training program along Tesda’s guidelines, presenting them to educators and industry leaders, and getting approval to upload them to the Tesda website. Some 45 to 50 participants collaborated in this outstanding industry response where the other stakeholders failed to deliver on time.


• Educators can succeed in similarly working with companies to co-design the other 186 training programs for new and emerging skills needed by the country. In an interview with Limpe-Aw and this writer, ANC’s Salve Duplito suggested that all MAP industry champions must engage in the same standard-setting for different new and emerging competency needs of the Philippines.

• Both school management/teachers and their students must change their preference from degree diplomas to short-term micro-credentials focused on particular skills of a few months, enabling poorer students to work while further pursuing four-year college courses, e.g., nursing aides for work supportive of genuine nursing degree-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics or science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based curricula (like drawing blood, providing patient hygiene, etc.), specific accounting work (in accounts receivables, inventory management, etc.), and fact-checking of research work, even ChatGPT-generated responses, related to new Philippine information technology/business process management on monitoring climate change and information systems of global clients, etc.

Indeed, these lessons were bolstered by the other CEO presentations on day one that became the subject of nine learning team workshops on day two of the Iloilo MEW. These are covered in the next installment of this article, illustrating that agility can be taught not only in physical sports but those of the mind as well. The Filipino high-level diaspora is just one example in this regard.

(To be concluded)

(The author is chair of the Management Association of the Philippines Education Committee. He is a board member of St. Paul University Philippines and Bayan Innovation Group, Inc. Feedback at and