TRADE DEPARTMENT nominee Alfredo E. Pascual plans to focus on expanding markets for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We need to focus on MSMEs. Those small businesses that closed due to the pandemic and find a way for them to start their businesses again,” Mr. Pascual, the incoming Trade Secretary, said in a television interview on Wednesday.

“We will (also) help them have the capability to participate in the bigger market through e-commerce. So, we also need the capability for digital transactions, accounting and record keeping, which can be helped by digital technology,” he added.

Mr. Pascual said he plans to focus on improving the mix of job skills available to better serve the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry.

He added that the industry is one of the country’s top earners, but its stands to improve to fulfill its potential.

“I’d plan to coordinate with our counterparts in the education sector on how to address the job skills mix. That has been an issue for a long time,” Mr. Pascual said.

“The graduates of our schools must be job-ready. They should be ready right away. The turnover rate (in IT-BPOs) is 30%, sometimes 50% per year. The companies are pirating among themselves for (skilled employees) because it is difficult to acquire new skills. If we are to support the growth of this industry, we need to produce skilled people who can do the work,” he added.

Mr. Pascual has said he will also focus on promoting digital transformation and encourage technology investment.

On May 26, President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. announced that Mr. Pascual has been tapped as the successor of Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave