by Mark Delgado
I am more than grateful to God to be invited to the 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum.
It was unplanned and was certainly a “last minute” decision. But when I was there for two days, the whole conference astounded me. Prior to joining the forum, I was just a regular young professional weaving dreams for himself, his family and for the people around him. I said to myself, “I’d like to create my own e-learning program or a website that shall promote work-at-home opportunities.” And then I was invited to the forum. And the forum pushes for ICT-based solutions (I am a digital marketing professional, by the way.).
Boom! For me, it was more than just hitting the jackpot.
I came to the forum as a dreamer. I went out as a changed man. All the more my fervor for pushing for e-learning, e-commerce and online job opportunities became stronger. Suddenly, I progressed from being a mere idealist to a man filled with purpose. Suddenly, my decision to leave a comfortable job in a big telco company in the Philippines made sense. Suddenly, all those sleepless nights I spent just to attend classes and finish my projects from my first e-learning certification program on digital marketing paid off. Suddenly, it’s magic. (Is that a song?)
Seriously, I’d like to thank all the people behind the 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum including my awesome co-delegates from the Philippines and abroad. (Woot! Woot!) I have already written my 5 best takeaways from the first day of the forum but still those weren’t enough. Below are some of the few more things that I’d like to add on the list.
1. The promise of emerging industries.
I jolted at the mention of 3D printing during the forum. How can that be mentioned here? Oh yes, it’s one of the emerging trends in the industry right now, I know. But what are the chances? A week before the forum, I was just talking to an IT company that needs a Digital Marketing Consultant to promote their personal and industrial 3D printers. I thought to myself that this can be the toughest project I will ever take in my entire career. Who wants a 3D printer inside their homes? But when the Business Development Manager started to brief me, I became excited. There is a huge market for 3D printers for architects, designers, hobbyists, homemakers students and others.
What’s the catch?
Just when you thought that you already know a lot of things about the world where you live, you are already wrong. There is so much to discover and know about the world around us especially on those emerging industries that pose a huge promise of more job opportunities for more people.
My challenge for my fellow youth delegates is to stay open to possibilities and stop limiting themselves. Let us always be on a lookout for those emerging industries that give hope to more people in the areas of jobs and training. Change is constant. If you intend to stay in the same place forever, you pose a danger to yourself. But if you stay awake and hopeful for the promise of the future, you will win.
2. The burden of the ICT guy.
Being the only participant who is not directly attached with any NGO, it somehow made me an accidental participant. But it also made all the difference.
I represented the community that I started around 2-3 years ago called Bloggers 4 Change Network. It is a community of bloggers who are passionate about using social media for social responsibility.
Being pro-ICT, I carried the burden of sharing my experiences as a Digital Marketing Consultant. I always say that I am a product of e-learning and online jobs. I recently resigned from my corporate job as a Senior Community Manager for Globe Telecom because I see more opportunities online. And not just more opportunities, but better opportunities. The ocean is blue and the grasses are green on that side of the world.
This is what I had been rallying about since Day 1. Honestly, my jaw dropped a bit when only 2 people ticked “Digital Jobs/Apps” from among the many issues that we want to tackle as a group. But I can totally understand this as I may be the only one directly involved in the ICT industry.
I can look at it in 2 perspectives. One side is saying that ICT is not one of the biggest burdens of my co-delegates. On the other hand, that there are still lots of opportunities to educate them about it. I am so glad that I am not the only voice who is pushing for ICT-based solutions. From the real-time poll tallying to the discussions among the adult delegates from other nations, the words “digital”, “ICT”, “social media” and “virtual” were never missed. My only sincere hope is that may there be a concrete action plan that will highly involve ICT-based solutions as an enabler towards achieving the goal of providing more training and job opportunities for the youth.
3. On starting somewhere, starting small and starting soon.
A few days back, I tweeted that the year 2013 was the year for startups and that the year 2014 will be the year for storytellers. I haven’t changed my mind about it yet.
This year, I’ve met the most number of startup founders in my entire life. One is involved in online advertising, the others are in digital marketing and the other one is in wire transfer of payments. Next year, they will be celebrating their first years (hopefully they make it 365 days in the Philippines) and then they shall be telling their stories — especially for other aspiring startupreneurs’ consumption.
I believe in starting somewhere, starting small and starting really soon. I believe that the increase in number of startups being build in the Philippines and in the world is mostly ICT-driven. Internet created more opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals. It also made starting a business a lot easier. Hopefully more and more people will be enticed to explore the potential of the Internet to become a source of development and livelihood to many.
4. On guiding the young ones.
I admire the youth delegates from Vietnam and the Philippines — Quy and Luigi. Quy talked about the need for properly guiding the youth on what career to pursue. Luigi mentioned about the time when people of our age threw themselves to pursuing nursing just because it was “in-demand” during that time.
I have been longing to ask these burning questions.
Is being in-demand for a job enough? Are we not supposed to take jobs based on our strengths and interests? Who should give career guidance? What can we do in order to resolve these problems?
You might be interested to know that from the poll conducted during the 2nd day of the forum, the delegates are more concerned with “the youth not being able to get the job that they want” than “the youth not getting any jobs at all”.
This can be the reason why Quy and Luigi brought up the issue of acquiring proper career guidance in career, more than acquiring a job itself. I believe that this calls for a more responsible media reporting, parenting and teaching for the young ones.
5. Don’t forget the kids!
On Day 2, we were outnumbered by the adult delegates and stayed only in one corner of the ADB Auditorium. But this did not stop us from being heard. Quy and Luigi talked in front of the stage and “refused to concede that the youth cannot make a dent in the world”. We blogged, Facebook-ed, Instagramm-ed and tweeted our viewpoints. We seated with the adult delegates during lunch and break times. Basically, we did everything for our voices to be heard by them and never allowed that chance to pass us by.
One of the panelists encouraged participation from the youth during the onset of the program. They wanted us to speak up and ask questions more. When he said that, I knew that something wonderful is about to happen on the 2nd day.
6. Becoming The Apprentice.
The first grand winner of The Apprentice Asia is from the Philippines. I am so proud of Jonathan Yabut. How did he bested the participants from other Asian countries? It was amazing and inspiring.
I envy him. During my college years, I never had the chance to become an intern in a company. Right after college, I never thought how unprepared I was for the corporate world.
I wonder how many young people like me had experienced what I did. Do they still have good chances of getting good jobs even without internship opportunities? Even if they do, are they prepared enough to survive and become regularized?
I may be very blessed because of the many training I had undergone that somehow augmented to my lack of internship experience in a company. I still believe though that real-world training outside school is very important.
I hope that in the coming days, this issue may be touched and be provided for an action plan to provide more internship opportunities for students to become more prepared in the real world.
7. Majority thinks.
During the forum, we conducted a poll from among the participants. The results might interest you. Here is the summary.
- Majority thinks that the youth are not getting the jobs they aspire for.
- Majority thinks that the training is not relevant to the jobs.
- Majority thinks that there enough internship programs available.
- Majority thinks that mobile is the most common mode of accessing the Internet.
- Majority thinks we are ready for the kind of environment that uses the Internet for education/employment.
- Majority thinks that young people use social media to look for jobs.
- Majority thinks that using a combination of online and offline methods in teaching is the best option to choose.
- Majority thinks there are only little entrepreneurship training available.
8. The great mismatch.
I have been hearing the word “skills mismatch” a lot during the forum — from my fellow youth delegates to the adult ones. They said that the available skills of the youth today are not anymore relevant to the needs of the industry. This made me think somehow that the problem is not really in the scarcity of jobs, scarcity of required skills.
Even in my own world, the online world, the problem is not the lack of jobs. There lots of jobs. But are there enough people who have the skills needed to do the job? Also, is there enough information dissemination about these available online jobs?
No. There are not enough people who have the skills needed to do online jobs such as digital marketing, graphics designing, website designing and etc. These skills are highly specialized and not too many schools offer these courses.
No. There are also not enough promotion and support for online jobs. Not too many of my peers have accounts on Elance, Freelancer and Odesk yet. Not too many of my peers too aspire to become an online professional like me. Most of them still want to stick to the traditional jobs offline. Most of the adult ones may be all the more unaware of these kind of opportunities online since the young ones are more active than them online. What we need is more support in promoting these online opportunities to more people.
Indonesia and the Philippines are among the top 10 users of social media in the world. This speaks a lot about the Internet usage of many Asians. I believe that promoting these online opportunities would not be very difficult to achieve.
9. The intriguing relationship of tourism and employment.
I remember the slogan of the former Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines. He said, “Kapag may turismo, may trabaho.” English: “If there’s tourism, there are jobs.”
Yesterday, a representative from the Department of Tourism spoke to us about their current initiatives in training and developing the Filipinos for jobs created through tourism.
This made me realize how much we should be supporting our country’s tourism as it seems to have a direct relationship with job creation. Beauty and leisure must not be underestimated. For a less developed country like the Philippines, we may not boast of our modern infrastructures and technology that much. But we can definitely boast of our natural beauty and tourist spots that developed countries look for.
It’s all about focusing on one’s strengths. Upon recognizing a country’s competitive advantage over the others, I believe that’s where opportunities begin.
10. Completing the ecosystem.
In the challenge of creating jobs and developing the skills of the youth, the participation of everybody is highly needed.
This is not just the fight of the government nor the academe. Definitely, the youth cannot just do this on their own. I believe that the participation of the private sector, civil society and NGOs are needed more than ever.
I thank the Asian Development Bank for creating this platform where a meaningful dialogue from among the stakeholders may be started and concrete action plans may be implemented towards developing the skills of the youth and providing jobs for them.
The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum runs from December 9 to 12, 2013 at ADB Headquarters in Manila. To participate online, please use the hashtags #ADBSkillsForDevForum #AsianYouth #Skills4Youth.