Speech On Friday

Speech On Friday

AUGUST 23, 2007

Joma Ronquillo
Esperant System Philippines
Batch 2, UP ITTC, Network Systems Track

Greetings distinguished guests…
(Enumerate guests….)
And to all of you present today, comrades in the Cyber World!!!

(make a ramos like gesture or  punch right fist in the air, comment on the weather)

On behalf of The University of the Philippines Information Technology Training Center (UPITTC) we would like to thank you for inviting us here in this IT conference. And to our Vice-President Harada San for allowing me to take the day’s leave making it possible for me to be here.

I am honored to speak right before you today, to talk about two things that meet the objective of this conference. The first is the imperative of getting adequate and competent training in the field of ICT. And second, on an institution that is now carrying out the frontier initiative in educating young Filipinos in the field of ICT.

Why is there a need for an adequate and competent training?
(Spread two hands. try to look dumbfounded)

The ICT job market is clearly one in which demand cannot be met by supply. The small percentage of highly-skilled ICT professionals coming out of the mainstream schools is simply inadequate to fill up the real ICT jobs, the hard-core ones that range from embedded technologies to applications development and networking.

The global demand has further depleted the supply of well-trained ICT professionals. Some of the best and the brightest in the ICT field opt to train and work overseas, sad to say, many for good.

The statistics may claim that we have hundreds of thousands of ICT graduates languishing in non-ICT work, or jobs that require only seminal grasp of ICT. But these are not equipped with globally-competitive skills, the type of skills that will survive in say, Silicon Valley.

Of course, the problem is not simply a problem of the country. It is a global thing. Even India, which is supposed to be one of the biggest suppliers of global ICT talent, is also complaining about the inadequacy of talented young men and women in the ICT field. To cope with rising demand for IT workers, India has promised to spend US$1 billion to triple the number of computer science graduates from Indian institutions from 100,000 per year now to a yearly target of 300,000. Simply put, India is embarking on an ambitious and overreaching ICT training and education program.

To jump start many of India’s ICT businesses, talented Indians working at the Silicon Valley are being asked to return home and serve the ICT needs of India .Even Indian legendary technical schools are not enough to meet the growing demand for highly-skilled technology workers there.

Even the giants in the ICT sector in the United States have been clamoring for the easy grant of working visas to foreign ICT talents to shore up the talent pool in the United States, which needs tens of thousands of replenishments a year and which the US schools and training centers cannot supply.

Microsoft, in order to go around the visa limitations for foreign IT workers, is planning to build a huge development facility in Canada. The announcement of Microsoft’s Canadian plans follows the failure of an immigration bill that would have increased the number of foreign high-tech workers to the USA each year, under so-called H1-B visas.

If only 3 out of 100 new college graduates are hired in call centers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) companies every year due to their failure to pass competitive qualifying exams, then we can just imagine the percentage of IT graduates that cannot meet the high expectations and standards of local employers.

It is within the context of these domestic and international realities that there should be concerted effort from the government, academe, private sector, and even multilateral institutions to step up and intensify the technologically oriented training of young Filipinos. This is a must in order to survive in the Knowledge Society.

There is no way our country can cope up with the quantum leaps in economic and technological activities, unless we equip our people with the necessary skills.

Indeed, we cannot overstress the need for competent training in the IT field.

(Pause for 3 seconds and look at the audience)

The awesome and inspiring success of the Google duo is instructive. It tells us that brilliant technical innovators will also be the titans of the global economy and the captains of industry. The period of the landed gentry and the leaders of mercantilist society are over and done with. An entirely new class of great and wealthy entrepreneurs has emerged, and these are mostly technical innovators and ICT pioneers.

Only through rigorous and adequate training can we achieve a fraction of what they have achieved. We may be role-players in the ICT field, but at the very least we are engaged in this pioneering and wondrous field.

We cannot afford to be the Nation Left Behind and Isolated from the technological mainstream.

Training and retraining is the key to our continuous engagement and involvement in the ICT mainstream.

How do we then develop the educational and training infrastructure to ensure that the country always has a pool of technically-grounded and competitive ICT workers? And lay down the definitive guarantee that the training never slackens?

Take India for example.

India’s much-envied experience centered on the establishment of a state-funded engineering and technology university with four campuses spread across the country. This was before the Y2K problem shook the ICT world and sent it scrambling for possible solutions.

By the time the global effort to solve the Y2K peaked, the four campuses became the virtual fount for solutions and prescriptions. For the first time, India’s ICT talent attracted global attention.

It will take a long time for Philippine government to set up a network of technological schools focused on ICT and enjoying full state support and subsidy. Just like what India did.

Because the educational resources of government has to focus first on basic education, not tertiary schooling, Teachers have to be hired, classrooms have to be built, desk, books, and chairs have to be supplied to basic education. The P11 billion budget that government allots every year to state colleges and universities is shared by more than 100 SUCs.

So one of the viable option is to encourage private schools to take up the slack in the ICT field and the presence here today of Central Luzon-based tertiary schools emphasizing on ICT is an encouraging development. The private sector has been a great driving force behind educational innovations in the country. The city of Balanga is very lucky to have The Bataan Heroes Memorial College for the steady supply of skilled IT manpower.

Another option is to build ITTC-like training centers in major state-run universities in the regions. I am speaking from experience.

My own personal engagement in the ICT field started at the UPIttc. Coming from a social science course, I have to crawl my way to learning IT. But that is another story.

Perhaps in the IT world, UPIttc is but mere byte located in one of the sectors in a hard drive of gigantic proportions. But here in the Philippines, it is an emerging educational force that trains men and women of all ages to be competent, creative – and here goes the best part – well compensated IT professionals.

The University of the Philippines Information Technology Training Center (UPITTC) is a program of the University of the Philippines in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The center offers a one-year full-time training course, Certificate in Information Technology, for 4–year college graduates. Specialization tracks offered includes Mobile Computing and Embedded Systems, Applications Development, and Network Systems.

UP ITTC Students gain a solid IT background complemented by effective business skills, communication skills, and Japanese language. Half of the curriculum is devoted to laboratory and workshop sessions, giving students ample hands-on experience. The center operates four computer laboratories with top-notch facilities.

The UP ITTC and its industry associates grant full scholarships, internships, and employment opportunities after completion of the training program.

It is now on its third year of operation, supplying the Philippine market with IT Professionals adept in their field of expertise.

(SHOW Slide Statistics…. If available)

The big plus is the ITTC can accomplish all of these without draining government resources for education; its partnership with JICA and corporate sponsors has eased the financial burden of government.

The dramatic shifts and progress in the current technological revolution requires that the training and education of technology workers should keep pace.

Ladies and Gentleman, there is no moment of rest.

As innovations become more sophisticated and complex, training and education should be elevated at that high level.

The Knowledge Society is made dynamic by ideas and human creativity. Without sustained training and retraining and education, ideas will run out, dynamism will turn into lethargy.

The sure key to dampening or slowing down the epochal technological revolutions is to freeze training and education for good.

But this is a far-fetched scenario.

The forthcoming Cyber Infrastructure, the next phase after the Internet Revolution, is now on its seminal stage.

The cyber world is preparing for it. We have armies of young men and women eager to be trained and engaged in this next phase.

Thank you and good day!

(punch fist in the air)

(pause, turn into waving motion as you go down the stage)