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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Arms Race: Digital Talent

Brent Endaya

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Arms Race Digital Talent

Change is constant. Change is inevitable. The future is closer than ever. The future is digital.

4 out of 5 top emerging jobs on the Philippines are tech-related according to LinkedIn. Philippine startups are rising into prominence and the Philippine outsourcing industry is getting stronger than ever.

These all seem great but if we look closely, these are all potential demands. And the supply for these demands is on a shortage: The supply of digital talent.

The influx of these new jobs is basically a preparation for the coming digital revolution. Big data, AI and automation still need human analysis, guidance, training, and troubleshooting. That’s all 4 of the emerging jobs in a nutshell. Support for the instruments and technology that will be brought forth by the transformation.

The emergence of new jobs is always a good thing. However, as Newton’s third law of motion says, with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Automation threatens to replace low-skill, repetitive tasks that are current occupations, especially in BPO companies. This influx of new careers is going to be immediately preceded by the reflux of lost careers because of digitalization and automation.

Upskilling and digital competency required

The only way to prevent loss of employment is by upskilling. Training existing employees to be ready for the digital transformation should be prioritized before going digital. It is in the best interest of companies to invest in the training of digitally capable employees.

Digital transformation is not only a differentiating factor between companies. Sooner than later, it will be requisite to stay in business. Having digitally-competent employees makes a company ready for digital transformation, minimizes loss of employees and gives a competitive edge to those who don’t.

Digital talent is needed more than ever but there is a definite shortage. Upskilling existing employees might fill the need for a little bit, but it’s not enough. The governments and education systems must also adapt to this issue.

Fresh grads should be educated about the booming digital industry. The government could also create programs to have unemployed people trained to add to the digital workforce.

Digital competency is a problem of the future but it’s going to affect the present. If the government, the education system, and the private sector won’t work hand-in-hand to tackle this problem, it’s going to get even bigger. And it’s already huge. Solving this problem is gonna need as many hands as possible.

Digital transformation is a disruptive force. A gale of creative destruction will be brought by this transformation. It’s imperative for the Philippines to be ready and well-versed about the coming change. Otherwise, it will just be a disaster for the economy.

Digital infrastructure for going global

Digital infrastructure for the Philippines

Being ready to face and embrace the digital transformation will give the Philippines a giant step towards the global stage. SEA countries are being eyed by investors as a fertile ground for the tech industry. This digital transformation will also bring the economic prosperity the Philippines aims for.

President Duterte’s Build Build Build program is a great start to have economic growth. But physical infrastructure is not enough. For the Philippines to maintain its growth and competitiveness, it needs digital infrastructure for digital transformation. It is indeed a tech revolution and the arms race is for digital talent.

Aside from skills and infrastructure upgrade, Philippine mindset also needs to flex. Digital is a very different beast from traditional processes. Adaptability and hunger for learning will make individuals, companies, and countries not obsolete in the coming digital age. It’s basically thinking like AI.

The question now is not if, but when. And the answer is sooner than you think. It’s important to always be future-proofed as the future may be just a day away.

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