SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Companies, schools and government agencies involved in information and communications technology (ICT) at the Subic Bay Freeport have formed a multi-sectoral organization to maximize industry prospects and boost the potentials of this free port as a world-class ICT hub.
In a meeting organized by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) recently, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone ICT Advisory Council was formed with Atty. Severo Pastor Jr., manager of the SBMA Labor Department, elected as president.
Among the attendees to the organizational meeting were senior officers and delegates from various schools and ICT-related companies in Olongapo City and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan, network providers, representatives from the media and the academe, and government agencies like the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“The Subic Bay Freeport Zone ICT Advisory Council has renewed enthusiasm in establishing a stronger network with more direct linkages to build a better partnership towards a more focused ICT industry,” Pastor said.
He admitted that a number of investors engaged in business process outsourcing (BPO) that found it hard to recruit qualified staff in the Subic Bay area eventually closed shop.
However, BPO investors should not be discouraged by this and instead train their own workers to reach the desired level of excellence, he added.
“At the Hanjin shipyard, local workers used to work only with acetylene or stick welding machines. However, after providing training in various types of arc welding, Hanjin has become successful with plenty of locally hired welders,” Pastor pointed out.
Meanwhile, in a message read by SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator Joy Alvarado, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said that in a short period of time, the Philippines has become one of the top outsourcing destinations in the world.
“We in Subic should take a chunk of that opportunity,” Garcia added.
SBMA Director Benjamin Antonio III, who was chosen as adviser for the ICT Council, noted that Subic is very much ready to become an ICT hub but that only business locators are lacking.
“Magkaroon lang ng kahit isa pang (BPO) player sa Subic, makikita nila ang kakaibang opportunity ng BPO sa Subic Freeport,” Antonio said.
He also pointed out the facilities that are already in place in Subic to provide the needs of the BPO locators, including those of PLDT SubicTel, fiber optic cable system for reliable linkages, dependable security system, related infrastructure, power supply and access linkages to other economic zones and Metro Manila.
“We are in a unique position to attract locators. That is why we need to be more aggressive and focus on creating job opportunities, focus on creating a more resilient SBFZ, and promote a positive image of Subic Bay,” Antonio also said.
In the same forum, Director Benhur Baniqued of the TESDA Zambales provincial office recommended aligning and adjusting the educational curriculum of the country towards defining the requirements of the BPOs.
Baniqued said that the government should encourage educational institutions to improve and support the ICT industry, while urging the experts to share their knowledge and equipment that are lacking in most of the schools in the locality.