By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE Aboitiz group is seeking to develop its education business in the coming years, starting with its partnership with cybersecurity training provider DDLS Australia Pty. Ltd.

The Filipino conglomerate operating power, banking, food, real estate and infrastructure businesses, among others, is hopeful that it will someday grow its education segment to catch markets outside the Philippines.

After opening its first training facility for DDLS Philippines (DDLS Aboitiz Inc.) last week, Aboitiz Impact Ventures (AIV) President Jokin P. Aboitiz said the company is hoping to expand the business further in the future.

“We really want to invest in this kind of education. We want to invest in something that is agile, relevant and not something that (easily gets obsolete),” he told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the launch.

DDLS Philippines is a joint venture between AIV and EdventureCo Asia Pacific, a vocational and professional education and training group which controls the DDLS brand.

The two forged a partnership in March 2019 and started conducting classes a few months later in various venues across Manila. It opened this month its first training facility in Bonifacio Global City to house its equipment and students.

“This is our first campus and we hope to add more campuses so students taking the classes can conveniently go to different classrooms,” DDLS Philippines President Luis Miguel O. Aboitiz said at the launch of the 500-square meter facility.

DDLS Philippines has so far trained more than 300 students in Microsoft courses and continues to evolve by adding more vendor-certified instruction courses to its offerings. It currently has five information technology (IT) trainers which will be expanded in the next few months, on top of access to DDLS Australia’s pool of about 200 trainers.

“We are not shy to invest. Aboitiz has always prioritized education,” AIV’s Mr. Jokin said. “If it’s sustainable, no problem. We’ll expand this. Make sure we touch as many people as we can.”

He noted the company is still figuring out the right model for the business, but it is definitely hopeful about its growth potential given the need for manpower upskilling due to the emergence of artificial technology and the fourth industrial revolution.

The company’s goal is to someday become Asia’s IT training hub — the throne currently held by Singapore — and get students from countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

“Our goal is to provide such high-quality education that we’re competing against Singapore, so that people in Thailand or Vietnam would fly here for training,” Mr. Luis Miguel said.

While the business is still in investment mode at present, Mr. Jokin said the company is projecting to start making a profit by the third year if it maintains to operate one campus.

DDLS Philippines has a flexible goal of opening six campuses within four years and eventually reach areas outside Metro Manila such as Cebu, Mindanao, Iloilo, Davao and Iligan.

AIV is a wholly owned unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., the listed holding firm of the Aboitiz Group. Shares in AEV at the stock exchange fell 95 centavos or 1.88% to P49.55 apiece on Monday.