PH to develop
AI-enabled workforce to address the threat of AI
May 24, 2018
MANILA – The
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) together with the Department
of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and tech pioneer
company AI Pros, are set to join forces to train Filipinos in using
Augmented Intelligence (AI2) as a solution to the impending threat
of artificial intelligence on the jobs in the Information Technology
- Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry, while encouraging
investors and operators to create more Socially Responsible Business
Process Outsourcing (SRBPO) in the countryside.
“Instead of AI replacing
jobs in the IT-BPO industry which is estimated to affect half of the
1.3 million jobs in the sector, the workers will be trained and
upskilled to make use of AI2-enabled systems. Basically, it’s making
the AI system become the solution to the problem,” Trade and
Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez explained.
will combine the power of artificial intelligence with human
intelligence to upskill the Filipino workforce and make them more
effective and productive by enabling them to do complex and
higher-paying tasks. This initiative, summed up under the
“Philippine AI Workforce” brand campaign, will provide more jobs to
Filipinos and bring the development to rural communities,” DICT
Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio added.
“We are the first country
to launch this kind of initiative. Instead of looking at AI as a
threat to the BPO industry, the Duterte administration is using AI2
to provide more opportunities for inclusive growth. We will train
and enable our workforce, regardless of their background and
experience, to use AI2 to perform smarter and complete difficult
tasks, and help them move up the value chain. The training will make
them employable, operating even in the rural areas to make this
program truly inclusive,” said Sec. Lopez.
DTI and DICT will
introduce the presence of AI2 solution to the BPO sector in the
Philippines (PH). The AI2 solution will employ impact sourcing by
involving the masses in the sector’s growth. This will allow 482,000
unskilled workers to handle low-skilled work, while 525,000
low-skilled workers will perform mid-skilled work, and 309,000
mid-skilled workers will be able to do high level tasks.
“The entire industry
market is worth USD 262 billion and only USD 79 billion is
outsourced. With the government’s initiative and push for
innovation, we will be able to benefit from this market to open up
more job opportunities for the Filipinos which is the priority of
President Duterte,” said Sec. Lopez
“The idea here is to
empower not only the existing BPO workers but also involve those at
the rural areas. A pedicab driver or palengke vendor can be trained
in using AI2 and start to perform even high-skilled jobs in IT-BPM,”
the trade chief added.
With the help of AI Pros,
a technology company founded by Diosdado Banatao and George Yang,
industry operators will be assisted in expanding their businesses by
designing, developing, and deploying AI2-based services that can be
applied to retail, finance, services, and healthcare. Both Dr.
Banatao and Dr. Yang are successful Filipino entrepreneurs in
Silicon Valley who are committed to help the Filipinos level-up
their skills in the age of technology.
To encourage IT-BPO
operators to use an inclusive business model, expand their
businesses to provinces and become Socially Responsible BPO, DTI
through the Board of Investments (BOI) has this activity in the BOI
Investment Priorities Plan, entitled to incentives.
The Department will then
focus on promoting areas with high poverty rates to these companies
and provide rural residents with 654,000 jobs.
“Operating in rural
communities with high poverty rate will give BPO companies an
opportunity to lower their labor cost while providing meaningful
employment,” said DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba.
“As we deepen our
participation and upgrade along the global value chains of
multinational companies, investments in AI activities in various
sectors of the economy will be supported,” said Sec. Lopez while
highlighting the inclusion of IT-BPM in the top industry priorities
to drive the country’s growth and development under the Inclusive
Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S).
Meanwhile, DICT will
supply a fast and inexpensive internet connection for the BPO
operators located in the countryside. DICT’s 4,000 Tech4Ed centers
nationwide will also be utilized to assist recruitment and AI
According to Sec. Rio, the
government will focus on rebranding and promoting the new
“Philippine AI Workforce” to support the BPO industry and improve
the country’s competitiveness.
The BPO industry has been
a key driver of PH growth for 15 years, supporting various
industries such as banking, retail, property, and providing 18
million employment opportunities nationwide. In a 2017 report, 50%
of the BPO operations are starting to be automated.