Filipino workers need skills upgrade

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The Filipino workforce must know more than speaking impeccable English and providing satisfactory customer service, a real estate consultant said, if only to lure more investments from outsourcing businesses abroad.

“We need schools to be teaching higher skill sets, not just voice services,” said Michael McCullough, co-founder and managing director of KMC Mag Group, the Philippine associate of global property services firm Savills. “We need to be doing big data analytics. We need to be doing more accounting. We really need more of the financial services.”

McCullough said the Philippines must invest in educating its workforce in higher skills that so-called Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) needs.

In a separate interview, Chris Fossick, managing director for Singapore and Southeast Asia of another global property advisor, Jones Lang Lasalle, said it is the Filipino workforce that is making foreign investors do business here, especially in the BPO industry.


“What’s important is the workforce the Philippines has,” Fossick said. “They are looking for people who are productive. Productivity is about the cost, and the output.”

McCullough said the Philippines’ office property market has the capacity to house KPO operations of foreign investors and office buildings catering to the industry are being taken up quickly.

“It’s been taken up really fast,” McCullough said. “But as fast as it’s been taken up, there’s a new one being built. So it’s not really a big issue. It’s more on the talent. You need to build the right talent. Not just offices; the people you put in the offices.”

He said the current Filipino workforce is providing services that are more on the voice service side, which is not exactly what KPO locators are looking for.

“They [KPO locators] need to find the employees with the talent, and that’s not what we’re churning out,” McCullough said. “We’re churning out people that speak English well, great customer service. But we need a different type of education to do analytic and strategic thinking on financial data sets.”

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