By: Allanah Paragas

Out of the 45 million Filipino working professionals, 1.3 million are directly employed in the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry. Since the 1980s, IT-BPM continues to be one of the most dynamic and resilient industries in the country by providing a diverse set of career opportunities for the Filipino workforce. As it continues to flourish, more jobs are expected to open.

Hiring skilled talents is critical in every organization. Being the umbrella organization of IT-BPM, the IT & Business Process Association Philippines (IBPAP)—together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and ICT Industry Development Bureau (IIDB)—held a webinar last October 21 titled, “Hot Skills to Learn for Higher Value Jobs” to advocate the value of upskilling Filipino talents who are aiming for higher-value jobs.

Discovering and developing both hard and soft skills are essential in a professional’s career succession. According to Frankie Antolin, Executive Director for Talent Development of IBPAP, the top four technical skills (or hard skills) that are in-demand across job roles in IT-BPM subsectors include project management, data analytics, intelligent automation, and digital marketing.

Upskilling oneself with technical skills is necessary in order to adapt and compete in the talent landscape. However, by focusing on the development of hard skills, people fail to notice the importance of learning and using soft skills.

Jerry Bonifacio, Cluster Head of Asia Select, was given the opportunity to share and enlighten more than 900 attendees about the three basic yet important soft skills that are normally overlooked:

Emotional Intelligence. Having the ability to be aware and express one’s emotions, at the same time taking into consideration the emotions of other people are important in building good relationships with colleagues while working remotely.

Creativity and Innovation. Individuals who showcase ingenuity especially in adapting to a new work environment are highly valued by organizations right now in order to thrive and grow.

Leadership. Being in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, professionals need to enhance their ability to lead and direct his or her team towards progress.

Peter Ramolete, Site Leader of DXC Technology, agreed with Jerry’s list. “These soft skills are often not stated but we actually look for them when we interview and evaluate candidates coming into the company,” he said. Jen Borlaza, Vice President for Talent Acquisition of Shearwater Health, even added, “These things [soft skills] you wouldn’t really learn from the four pillars of your schools or universities like communication–how you would collaborate with other people and you would follow instructions.”

A good example where soft skills are fully integrated and well-used is in the healthcare industry wherein a professional encounters different types of people on a daily basis. According to Deb Estero, Sr. Manager-Strategic Sourcing of Optum Global Solutions, communications is essential but there is more to it. “We really need someone who can think on their feet…Scripts don’t work right now because the cases they need to answer can be complex and very different from one customer to another,” she stated.

Adding more to the list of in-demand skills are four foundational skills (or soft skills) which include critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. “We need to have these foundational essential skills in order to move up to those highly specialized and complex types of roles,” Antolin said.

Learning is a continuous and valuable process in which every professional should always be eager to do. In order to progress and attain a high-value role, one must have the grit and commitment to excel. In fact, AJ Buencamino, Lead Talent Acquisition Manager for Specialized Hiring of Manulife Philippines, willfully stated, “You have to continue learning. You have to keep abreast of what’s the trend out there. In progressing in your career, you have to list down what you can do, what you want to do, and how you think you can achieve them…you also need to list down what you need to improve on and find training sessions that you can attend for you to acquire those skills that you have.”

Organizations across all industries have one thing in common, and that is to thrive towards progress and growth. In order to attain progress, they need resilient and persevering professionals who are equipped with both hard and soft skills and at the same time have the eagerness and passion to learn.

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