by: Sidney Liquigan
At the second Senate hearing on AI's threat on BPO, Senator and Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV urged the government to protect over 1.4 million BPO jobs in the Philippines from impending threats brought upon by AI, the shifting economic policies of other countries, and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
"We must prepare for these threats and not be caught flat-footed," said Sen. Aquino. "Our fellow Filipinos cannot afford to lose their livelihood, especially in these times," he added.
During the first hearing, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) mentioned that by 2022, there will be a decline in demand for low-skilled jobs in the IT-BPO industry of about 43,000 jobs. However, there is also a potential that AI will open up 388,000 mid-skilled jobs and 309,000 high-skilled jobs, which Sen. Aquino hopes the Filipino BPO workers can be ready for.
"The clear solution is to retrain our workers and upgrade their skills to be viable for higher job levels. Our training centers and academic institutions must start offering courses for these higher-skilled BPO jobs," Sen. Aquino said. He also added that these courses could also be offered through scholarships and TESDA vouchers.
Sen. Aquino also emphasized the urgency of the matter, suggesting that government agencies should take action immediately before the threats start to leave the low-skilled BPO workers jobless.
"I want to see urgency in our agencies to move this forward quickly and with purpose. This is the first time in years that the BPO industry will be at risk. We need to protect our countrymen's jobs," he said.
Aside from discussing the threat of AI to the BPO sector in the Philippines, the Senate hearings headed by Sen. Aquino and the Committee on Science and Technology also aim to determine how the TRAIN Law affects the sector and how the effects can be corrected in the next tax reform package.
Sen. Aquino also announced a third hearing that will occur this month.