Monthly Archives: May 2020

Angara: Faster Growth of Digital Careers to Address Impact of COVID-19 to Employment

Over the course of the lockdown imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country, work from home has become the new normal for offices that continue to function.

For many businesses and even the government service, Senator Sonny Angara sees the work from home arrangements continuing even after the lockdown is lifted or at least until a vaccine is found for COVID-19.

In some cases, businesses have also made adjustments to their operations because of the losses they have incurred over the lockdown period and this includes downsizing.

“We are seeing the growth of the so-called gig economy in the country and with the extended period of the lockdown being implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be even more activities on this front as businesses have to adjust to the new normal,” Angara said.

“Workers affected by the lockdown will also be exploring new ways to make a living and with many businesses shutting down because they are unable to cope with their losses, people will start looking at alternative means of livelihood,” he added.

To prepare Filipinos for the skills needed for the gig economy and to promote and strengthen digital careers, Angara has filed Senate Bill 1469 or the National Digital Careers Act.

The gig economy refers to the practice of companies of hiring short-term, independent contractors or freelancers.

Jobs available to these freelancers usually fall under the umbrella of digital careers and in most instances the work is done outside of the office and payment is made based on output and fulfillment of deliverables.

There are also freelance jobs that have become staples in the Philippine setting such as those in Transportation Network Vehicle Service system, food delivery and courier services, and even home sharing.

In 2019, Forbes ranked the Philippines sixth among the fastest growing markets for freelancers, with a 35 percent income growth from the previous year.

Paypal, in its 2018 Global Freelancer Insights Report, analyzed 22 countries and noted that the Philippines has one of the highest number of freelancers per capita, at around two percent or roughly 1.5 to two million Filipinos.

“Freelancers are usually paid very well. They get to work at home, at their own pace, and without their micromanaging bosses looming over them. It’s the perfect set up for people who qualify for these jobs,” Angara said.

“On the part of the employers, hiring freelancers mean lower costs on their part and they get to tap a huge talent pool, all of which would make a positive impact on their bottom line,” he added.

The bill seeks to establish a legal framework for the gig economy that will map out strategies to promote and strengthen digital careers and institutionalize employment standards for digital career workers.

It also tasks the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to create, design and develop programs to ensure access to trainings, market and other forms of support or innovation strategies for digital careers.

“But first we have to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, specifically to provide reliable, high-speed internet access in all areas of the country. A lot of our activities under the new normal will rely on internet connectivity—be it education or commerce, so this must be among our national priorities now,” Angara said.

Under the bill, the DICT, together with the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Public Works and Highways and other relevant departments and agencies are tasked to ensure universal access to high-speed, quality and affordable internet by prioritizing and facilitating the development of connectivity infrastructures in the localities across the country.

The development of digital careers is one of the thrusts of Tatak Pinoy, an initiative of Angara that is meant to spur innovation, address supply chain issues, and develop the skills of Filipinos so that they will be prepared to face the demands of the constantly changing marketplace.

Some of the common lucrative digital jobs in the market today are the following:

a. Web development and designing
b. Online teaching and tutoring
c. Content creation (writing and copywriting and others)
d. Digital marketing (e-Commerce, sales and marketing)
e. Creative design, graphic designing, 3D modelling and CAD, game development, logo design and illustration, and audio and video production
f. Mobile app development
g. Search engine optimization
h. Virtual assistance (administrative support or assistance)
i. Branding and public relations, social media coordinator and community management
j. Web research, business intelligence and data analytics
k. Transcription and data entry jobs article and blog writing
l. Customer service and technical support
m. Human resource management and systems
n. Architecture services and other professional services through the Internet

FULL TEXT OF SENATE BILL NO. 1469

ANGARA PUSHES FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Senator Sonny Angara with ICT Stakeholders

The Philippines need to adopt a digital transformation as part of its major strategies to face the current crisis brought about by the pandemic.

Prompted by this urgent need, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara authored a bill for the creation of a national digital transformation policy to focus on the digital competence and skills of Filipinos, promotions digitally-enabled jobs, education and government service.

The bill seeks to create a digital competence framework for citizens to serve as a standard tool in improving the digital competence of citizens, guide in formulate of policies that support digital competence building, and plan education and training initiatives to improve the digital competence of various specific target groups.

It also aims to create an information and communications technology (ICT) competency framework for teachers to outline the competencies that teachers, educators and trainers need in order to integrate ICT into their professional practice. The framework shall be used to compare the teachers’ competencies in different regions, provinces, cities and municipalities, to analyze and develop educational programs and training courses of teacher professional development at national or regional level. It shall provide guidelines and a basic set of qualifications to develop courses for pre-service or in-service teachers, in order to enable teachers to integrate ICT in a pedagogically effective way.

Another provision of the bill is the creation of a national digital strategy to develop a national economy that is founded on knowledge and innovation, ensuring that every citizen shall have the opportunity to understand and learn ICT and develop skills and ability to apply the ICT in their work, vocation, business and life in society to achieve become part of national socio-economic development and growth.

The proposed bill envisions digital Inclusion to enable all citizens, irrespective of age, gender, physical ability, ethnicity, health conditions, or socio-economic status to access the opportunities of the internet. Citizens, businesses and public services must take full advantage of the transformational benefits of the digital revolution.  To achieve this, there shall be digital libraries and learning hubs to improve digital communication, increasing citizen’s digital footprint, promoting digital inclusion and transform these libraries as providers of digital access, training and support for local communities.

The bill also promotes digital entrepreneurship or the digitization of businesses according to their own specific digital needs, mainly focused on these four core digital activities, such as maintaining a web presence, selling online, using the cloud, and digitizing back-office functions such as payroll and human resource management, in order to become or remain competitive.

To ensure the highest standards of public service, the Civil Service Commission shall also identify and consolidate all the skills and competencies of public employees in the career service and recommend and cause the conduct of digital skills training under an annual digital skills mapping activity. All public employees shall be covered under a mandatory basis of certification under the digital competence framework for citizens to identify areas the need training and intervention.

The proposed bill also aims to establish national digital skills development strategy from primary up to post-graduate level, identifying work-related digital skills training programs for out-of-school youth, including for freelancers and part-time workers and training programs for adults requiring re-skilling and life skills in the digital economy for all citizens. The bill

To oversee the implementation of digital transformation, the bill will create a National Digital Transformation composed of relevant government agencies and at least ten representatives from the private sector that is involved in digital skills and talent development organizations, digital industries and jobs, or digital systems and products.

FULL TEXT OF SENATE BILL 1470

The New Normal

HIGHEST OR MAXIMUM PUBLIC HEALTH STANDARDS and GRADUAL EASING of Enhanced Community Quarantine subject to strategic general conditions:

CITIZEN-CENTRIC STRATEGY

1. With strictest quarantine for all COVID-19 vulnerable sectors identified by global experts subject to valid exemptions (school, work or emergency) such as but not limited to –

– Minors or persons who are deemed minors because of physical or mental disabilities unless

– Senior citizens who are sickly, who are incapacitated to work or are fully dependent on immediate family

– People who are suffering from serious underlying conditions or are incapable of working

– Persons who have no reason at all to go out of their homes or loiter

2. Strict Imposition of Curfew of 8PM, except for people working in the healthcare sector, BPO sector, law enforcement and transport and similar industries

3. Strict imposition of 8am to 5pm standard office hours. 5PM to 8PM window period should be used for travelling to respective homes

ECONOMIC STRATEGY

. Strictest guidelines and certifications for workplace sanitation and physical distancing observed in all industries and institutions. Reduction of reporting personnel through Work From Home schemes.

5. Constant promotion of contactless transactions with local government units and government agencies in compliance with RA 11032

6. Promotion of effective and safe food supply chains to ensure access to safe and affordable food

7. Development of new or aligned industries to create jobs and opportunities. Upskilling and re-skilling of manpower for digital jobs

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM STRATEGY

8. Dissemination of clear and specific hotlines per barangay for tele-consultation of COVID-19 symptoms subject to confidentiality (process to follow DOH protocol)

9. Preparation and certification of designated quarantine areas equivalent to at least 1 bed per 1000/pop.

10. Preparation and certification of 1 COVID-19 hospital bed for every 2000/population

11. Weekly, Bi-Monthly or Monthly basic health check up for individuals reporting daily for work. Can be done remotely or digitally.

12. Continued increase hiring and training of public doctors and healthcare frontliners

13. Setup of public health checkpoints for all transport drivers, social workers and barangay healthcare workers for free constant check

14. Continuous mass testing for COVID-19, increase testing capacity and strengthen access protocols

PUBLIC OR SOCIAL STRATEGY

5. Continuous prohibition of large crowds gathering and continuous creation of systems to prevent long queues. Emphasis pn physical distancing in public areas and aggressive support for safe schools so education can resume gradually.

16. Continuous wearing of mask for individuals required according to global standards

17. Systematic and well-monitored inter-LGU travels

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY

18. Mapping of depressed areas in the LGUs for targetted civic activities sponsored by private sector

19. Establishment of sectoral roadmaps to specifically assist sectoral recovery

20. Public and private sector, and mass media to support and continuously spread awareness and understanding of COVID-19, ways to stop the spread and build strong immune system in all fora