Improving skills for using ICT, enhancing internet connections pushed

Information and communications technology (ICT) offers huge opportunities for Filipinos thus, the country’s efforts must focus on improving knowledge and skills for using it and enhancing mobile internet connections.

“Many Filipinos are confident in using it (ICT) in their business transactions and are hopeful and positive in the benefits that they can gain from it. However, the low awareness and lack of knowledge of many in using the internet prevent from maximizing the gains from it,” Dr. Aubrey Tabuga, research fellow at Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said in a webinar.

Tabuga made this recommendation after presenting the results of a study providing an overview of ICT use among Filipinos based on the 2019 national ICT household survey results.

She said the survey found there seemed to be high confidence in using online platforms and the majority of online sellers recommended online selling.

“There is a strong incentive (to) pursue policies for reskilling the workforce and enhancing educational capacity,” she added. “Older people and those who have low educational attainment must be targeted in such efforts.”

Tabuga also underscored the need to address the gaps in infrastructure and provision of social protection.

“Improving mobile internet connections are crucial to further enable greater ICT usage for both men and women; and to maximize the benefits they can reap from the digital platforms available,” she said.

Tabuga said efforts must also be made to streamline access to formal institutions and its processes such as banking and government transactions in an online setting.

“A feasible channel for introducing social protection initiatives may be through government’s engagement or partnership with online platforms, especially social media platforms where most online entrepreneurship by individuals are being conducted,” she said.

“These platforms can be incentivized to promote access to social insurance, become a channel for educating users on the importance of social protection and for advocating participation,” she added.

PIDS senior research fellow Dr. Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy also presented a paper examining the experience of Filipinos in crowdwork, a platform work posing challenges in the enforcement of national labor laws as transactions typically cross borders.

Dacuycuy said 53 percent of female respondents identified slow connectivity and the absence or inadequacy of social protection as challenges, while a higher proportion of them compared to men have reported issues of inadequacy of skills.

On the other hand, some 46 percent of male respondents also reported connectivity a challenge, she said.

“While entitlements can be derived from non-platform work, social protection coverage remains a big challenge for women,” she added. “In the Philippines, social protection is largely tied to formal employment.”

Dacuycuy said there is a need for policies, programs, or initiatives towards skills development.

“Otherwise, (the) skills gap between gender is likely to remain, if not widen. Skills development and training systems that enable workers to develop the requisite skills in any work arrangement is crucial.

Leverage digital platforms to efficiently bring together markets for skills and training,” she said.

Dacuycuy further said social protection systems must also adjust to the evolving nature of work.

“Otherwise, gender gaps in coverage are likely to remain, if not widen. Strategies that target both the promotion of employment and the protection of workers against uncertainties are essential,” she added.

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