THE IMPORTANCE of digital skills in the workforce has been highlighted by the pandemic, according to Senior Economist Yoonyoung Cho of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank.

“The pandemic accelerated and increased the use of technology,” Ms. Cho said in a webinar Thursday organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. As such, “we need to develop our workforce’s digital skills.”

According to Ms. Cho, the Philippines had “one of the fastest-growing economies” in East Asia with an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 6.4% between 2010 and 2019. In the same period, the country maintained low jobless levels of as employment grew 2.17% annually. 

The Philippine Statistics Authority estimated the unemployment rate at 5.1% in 2019, peaking at 17.6% in April 2020 due to the pandemic. It has since eased to 6.9% in July 2021.

To sustain the decline in unemployment, Ms. Cho recommended a program to develop digital skills, to improve worker employability. Such skills may be incorporated into the education curriculum to prepare students for the workforce, while training and testing may be provided by the government for current workers. 

Ms. Cho views digital skills as belonging to three levels — basic, intermediate, and advanced.

The basic level involves access to and ability to use digital technology to perform basic tasks. The intermediate level entails the ability to use professional software for analysis, creation, management, and design tasks; and the advanced level covers specialized tasks in information and communications technology. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago