Speech of ATTY. JOCELLE BATAPA-SIGUE for CONVERGENCE 2009 delivered on SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 as CHAIR of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT)
Bacolod City topped in the criterion of business environment with a score of 96 percent among the Ten Next Wave Cities Scorecard Ranking” of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT), Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and the Department of Trade and Industry for outsourcing in the Philippines outside of Metro Manila and Cebu.
The BPAP-CICT-DTI scorecard computed the scores using the following criteria: availability of talent (50%), infrastructure (30%), cost (5%) and business environment (15%).
Bacolod scored high under the business environment because this criterion took into account incentives from the local government units, peace and order situation, vulnerability to natural disturbances, travel advisories and crime rates.
We are second in terms of costs, which includes median base pay, real estate rentals and power rates. We ranked fifth in terms of infrastructure which considers airport standards, flight frequency and international flights, availability of real estate, hotel accommodations, road quality, telecommunications and power infrastructure.
Bacolod is in the lower five on the aspect of human resource, and we need to work harder in this area by involving the whole province of Negros Occidental in producing not just vailable manpower but hirable manpower.
We need to develop the kind of graduates required for services or outsourcing industry, which is primarily a people business. The talents and skills that our workers have are what can make or break the industry for us in the country as well as local level. A workforce with the correct skill set is our competitive advantage to India, China and all the other countries who have identified the development of the services sector as one of their economic strategies. To attain our country’s objective of becoming a serious global player in the outsourcing and off-shoring industry, Bacolod must join the direction of other cities, which focus on the development of graduates so that they can successfully integrate themselves into and become part of our services workforce.
Let me show you today – briefly what the latest scorecard of Bacolod is (begin slide)
- 40 colleges and universities within Negros Occidental with
- Around 15,000 graduates a year (with about 38,000 graduates for Region VI)
- Strong commitment and participation of the academe in all stages of development
- 6 TESDA – Accredited Providers for Call Center Training
- 16 PEZA-Accredited IT Parks and Buildings with 8 Already Presidentially-Proclaimed
- Redundancy (major TELCO companies available with fiber optic connection at competitive rates)
- Accessible by land, air, and sea
- Low real estate rental costs
- Competitive average base pay
- Reasonable power, water and other business costs
- Creation of the Bacolod and Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT), Inc.
- Institutionalization of A Multi-Stakeholder Approach
- Strong Commitment of All ICT Stakeholders
- Industry-Academe-Business/Private Sector-Government
- Private Sector-Led Development
Government Institutional Support
2005 – Bacolod Information Technology (IT) Focus Team under Executive Order No. 8 S. 2005
2006 – Information Technology (IT) Schools Network of Negros Occidental (ITSNET), Inc.
2007- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council of Bacolod under City Ordinance No. 440 S. 2007
Bacolod-Negros Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) Membership in the Philippine Federation of ICT Organizations/Councils Organized by CICT
2008 – Membership in the National ICT Conference of the Philippines (NICP)
- Show old scorecard – PCC – CICT Commissioner Dondi Mapa
- Show new scorecard – Next Wave Cities
- Comprehensive Industry-Academe Forum to set the curriculum based on agreed standards
- Skills Assessment and Certifications
- Development of Training Courses and Modules
- Moving-Up the Value Chain (Non-voice, Animation, Finance, Game Development, Software)
As important stakeholders, we are gathered here today for a shared vision – the vision of seeing Bacolod and Negros Occidental as progressive local government units not only in terms of infrastructure and outward development but likewise in terms of the quality of life of every individual Bacolodnon or Negrense.
I have always been a believer of the talent and knowledge of our people in Bacolod and Negros Occidental, that in 2004, despite all the odds – I, and all the other stakeholders, worked hard to make Bacolod a destination for IT-BPO outsourcing. Today, our challenge is to ensure the sustainability of these investments and to move up the value chain by aggressively improving our manpower quality. It is not enough that we have “available manpower”, we need to also ensure that we have “hirable manpower”.
Let us not be simplistic and think that Bacolod is a booming investment site today because of our politicians and our place per se. We are an attractive IT-BPO site because of our people. We need to support and bridge our people with the industry. As a politician, I have no delusions about how great our city is – because our greatness lies in our people, the private sector who supported since Day 1 to ensure the availability of PEZA parks and buildings, the HR and academic community who showed remarkable openness towards the idea of re-engineering their curriculum to suit the demands of the industry and most of all to our agents – the ones “on the floor” manning the operations of our call centers to prove that Bacolod might be a tiny city – but we can be world-class.
But the quest to be world-class and to provide jobs for our people regardless of economic status, gender and religion do not stop here. The jobs are coming from all corners. Our locators are expanding. Our opportunities are endless because they say “the world is flat”. But we cannot lag behind and not take care of our manpower pool. After many years, I have realized that our colleges can only do so much – we need to go back to the core – the high school and elementary years – where our children learn math and science (as their funadamentals for software, finance and accounting), English (as their fundamentals for CRS/BPO/Transcription), research (as their fundamentals for KPO), arts (as their fundamentals for animation), religion, Sibika and PE (as their fundamentals for human relations).
So today, let us work to make CONVERGENCE 2009 a success. And our success lies in how many young people we would be able to reach – through this awareness campaign.
Thank you for joining Convergence 2009 – there is nothing more satisfying than seeing people help themselves out from the bondage of helplessness.
Bacolod has all that it takes to soar! Kudos to all of us!!!