GenSan upbeat over emerging BPO industry; restructures computer literacy program

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 August) – Upbeat with the prospects of the city’s emerging Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, the city government has restructured its flagship computer literacy program for local public schools to complement with the manpower requirements of potential BPO locators.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said they have introduced a “re-engineered” curriculum for its SHEEP-Computer Literacy Program (CLP) to help upgrade the computer skills and awareness of students in public elementary and secondary schools in the city on various modern Information and Communications Technology (ICT) trends and developments.

“We came up with a more advanced computer education curriculum, focusing on the teaching of more advanced computer skills that are required by BPO companies,” she said.

SHEEP stands for Social Transformation, Human Empowerment, Economic Diversification, Environment Security and Regeneration and Participatory Governance and Transparency, which are the city’s main development thrusts.

The city government earlier launched the CLP as a major component of the SHEEP program’s education-related initiatives.

In coordination with the Department of Education, Custodio said they initially launched a trainers’ training for ICT coordinators of all public elementary and high schools in the city.

She said the training program is aimed at developing a core of competent ICT trainers or instructors who would implement the new SHEEP-CLP curriculum.

“Before this, our computer literacy curriculum was just focused on computer fundamentals like word processing which, I think, most of our students already know how to use. With the upgraded curriculum, we will now be teaching them some advanced skills like animation, webpage design and development, among others,” the mayor explained.

Aside from the restructuring of the CLP curriculum, Custodio said they are planning to upgrade the existing computer laboratories of local public schools and acquire additional computer sets.

She said the local government will also establish a pilot speech laboratory in one of the public schools in Barangay Lagao this year.

“This will be the first speech laboratory in GenSan. This is for pilot testing and we will evaluate how we can replicate it later on in other schools here,” the mayor said.

Custodio said these initiatives are aimed at making the students of local public schools become more capable and well-prepared in case they eventually decide to take up advanced computer courses in college or seek possible employment in the BPO industry.

On Thursday, the local government and the business community here unveiled the city’s first Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA)-registered Information Technology or IT Park, which is being developed as the region’s BPO hub and a “landmark for IT and IT-enabled services and business” in the city.

The 2.8-hectare Mabuhay IT Park, developed and operated by local firm MabuhayOne Corporation, is envisioned as “a one- stop facility capable of carrying voice, video and data services that will deliver a superior, reliable and secured network communications and back- up power supply to assure of clean and uninterruptible power.”

It formally opened its doors Thursday to “ICT service activities, especially in the area of software development; IT-enabled services such as call centers, data encoding, transcription and content development; knowledge-based and computer-enabled support services like design process engineering and consultancies; BPO; IT research and development; and, other IT related services.”

Custodio said top BPO player Sutherland Global Services is currently preparing to open a call center facility at the Mabuhay IT Park as part of its ongoing expansion.

She said the company is presently training its newly-hired manpower pool in its call center facility in Davao City.

Sutherland, which was earlier named by PEZA as the “2011 Outstanding Employer,” operates in six locations in the country namely Makati City, Taguig City, Davao City, Tarlac City, Clark Field in Pampanga, and Pili in Camarines Sur. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)