Philippines opening up training centers for IT-BPM sector

By Czeriza Valencia

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is opening its doors to foreign-owned training centers for the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry to enable the sector’s transition to higher value services, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

This is among the areas that will be removed from the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) now being reviewed by Malacañang.

As the law limits investment in the formal education sector to Filipino nationals, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said foreign training centers for IT-BPM would only be allowed to offer short term courses, not degree programs.

“The training centers can offer high-level skills training for as long as they do not form part of the hierarchical structure of our educational system. This is really to give a boost to our IT-BPM sector. The sector has to go up the value chain so they have to go to the non-voice part but right now they still do not have the necessary skills to be able to do that and we need to have that push. By opening that sector, we can encourage some training centers to be established and they can offer these short term courses,” she said.

By limiting the scope of services that can be provided by these foreign training centers, the easing of foreign restriction in the sector can be done administratively

“With the training centers, the major limitation we are putting is that they should not form part of the hierarchical structure. So these cannot be master’s or doctorate degrees. For as long as these are short course, it does not violate existing laws,” said Edillon.

With its young and talented workforce, the domestic IT-BPO sector has the potential to advance to higher value functions such as big data analytics, robotics and animation, training for which is limited within the country.

“We do have some centers or schools that offer those but these are small and only have one or two professions. But if we want the sector to level up, we have to do that,” said Edillon.

There is a large investment potential for such educational centers as it will be a means of upgrading the services of a prominent business sector in the country, she said.

Companies, for instance can also have more accounts in back office accounting procedures for European firms if they have employees knowledgeable about European accounting practices and standards.

“With respect to IT-BPM there is a big investment potential as it it also a way to secure the future of the sector. As you know, we are going more into other services not only voice,” she said.

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