BPO industry advised to get skills upgrade amid AI advancement

By , on August 8, 2017


FILE: Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV. (PNA photo)
FILE: Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV. (PNA photo)

MANILA, Aug. 8 — Amid reports that advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) could affect around 40,000 workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, a senator has advised companies to move their workers up the skills ladder.

“The best way to protect ourselves is to move our workers up the skill ladder. This is best done by having opportunities for education and by upgrading skills, retooling and retraining industry workers,” Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said in a press statement.

Aquino made this call after the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), during a recent Senate hearing, disclosed that AI advancement has put a number of BPO-related jobs at risk.

The Union Network International-Philippine Liaison Council (UNI-PLC), for its part, said that around 60 percent of work, especially in the BPO industry, will be affected.

“We cannot wait for this downturn in jobs to happen before we prepare. We should be prepared,” Aquino, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, added.

Aquino urged the BPO industry to work hand-in-hand with concerned government agencies, such as the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that the country is prepared for any eventuality if the implementation of AI goes into full swing.

He also called on schools to assess the current skills training programs needed by industry workers and upgrade their abilities to the next level.

This way, he said, institutions can “maximize opportunities” presented in AI.

The senator said that around 250,000 to 300,000 fresh jobs will be created once contact center workers are given the capability to perform higher-level jobs, such as data analysis and data programming.