Bridging Filipino students’ digital skills gap

Photograph courtesy of FB/mapua Students of Mapua University participate in a group discussion under the SAP University Alliances program that assists in bridging the gap and building the next generation’s digital skills for more opportunities in the professional world.

With the Filipino people adopting the digital lifestyle, it is also imperative for the government to nurture the minds of its young students to prepare them for the embrace inevitable technology boom.

A report from educational software and solutions company, Academia by Seroft cited data collated in August 2022 from the World Bank, showing some alarming statistics on the education crisis in the Philippines.

“About 91 percent of children in the Philippines struggle with reading simple text at 10. The Philippines scored highest on the Learning Poverty index in the list of countries in Asia,” the report said.

Learning poverty means the inability to read and understand short texts by age 10. No matter how minuscule this situation sounds, the education system in the Philippines is grave.

The report also indicated a 90 percent learning deprivation rate, and more than five percent of children in the Philippines are deprived of school.

The Academia report further noted that, undoubtedly, Covid-19 has increased the crisis and worsened the country’s current state.

Although the Philippine government took drastic steps to ensure education does not stop, they failed because people needed more tools such as computers, mobile phones, internet access, and others to continue education through blended learning.

In a survey, the top five concerns with digital learning among Filipinos were: No availability of digital tools, no internet access, poor internet connectivity, lack of student engagement and focus on online learning, and lack of education in parents to support children in their education.

SAP intervention
With this, European software and digital solutions provider SAP wants to make a difference for the future workforce of the Philippines following the announcement of the rollout of its University Alliances Program, a partnership with 23 universities in the country, to bridge and improve young Filipino students’ digital skills and literacy.

According to SAP, a recent study by Asian Development Bank and LinkedIn disclosed that basic computer knowledge and skills are required from eight out of 10 hired applicants and four out of 10 with extensive digital literacy in Asia and the Pacific.

This situation is also the same in the Philippines. Simple digital skills were needed from six out of 10 hired Filipino jobseekers and two out of 10 with advanced skills.

Meanwhile, with the plans laid by the Marcos Administration, promoting digital literacy through upskilling young Filipinos, particularly their digital skills, is also deemed critical since the country continues strengthening its digital transformation initiatives.

“As the demand for digital skills increases, education is the key to achieving the country’s digital transformation goals. Educational institutions must be able to equip their students with the proper knowledge and digital skills before they enter the workforce. Not only will it help them have more opportunities in the professional world, but it will also give them the ability to help public or private organizations innovate for business success,” said Rudy Abrahams, managing director of SAP Philippines.

To assist in bridging the gap and build the next generation’s digital skills for more opportunities in the professional world, SAP Southeast Asia continues its mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives by helping strengthen the future IT workforce through its University Alliances Program in the country.

With more than 160 university members across the Asia Pacific and Japan, this initiative aims to enable faculty and teachers to hone the youths’ digital skills by introducing the latest technologies and methodologies with SAP solutions. Membership in this program grants access to SAP software.

It also aims to help partners to learn best practices for integrating program resources into teaching and be inspired to partner with the SAP ecosystem of customers and partners.

In the Philippines, at least 23 universities are now part of the program. Among these institutions is Mapua University, one of the top IT schools in the country.

“Mapua University has been a member of the SAP UA Program since 2010. Our membership in this program allows us to equip our students with necessary digital skills that they can use to jumpstart their careers and thrive as IT professionals,” said Ariel Kelly Balan, Dean of the School of Information Technology at Mapua University.

Empowering Mapua faculty
For universities to educate students with modern digital skills, faculty members are provided with Train-the-Trainer workshops conducted by members of SAP Next-Gen Chapters.

These are lighthouse educational institutions selected to be multipliers of the University Competence Centers and Academic Competence Centers.

These universities mentor educators of other institutions with the best practices for teaching students regarding teaching SAP software and curriculum.

Train-the-Trainer workshops include a wide array of courses, such as excellent training, planning, and preparation, successful training start, professional rhetoric and presentation, effective media use and visualization, helpful activation methods for participants and constructive and positive handling of critical situations.

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