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Pinoys lack soft skills for the digital age –study

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Filipino workers often lack soft skills for the digital age which makes them ill-prepared to adapt to artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, according to a new study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The study, titled "Toward Measuring Soft Skills for Youth Development: A Scoping Study," attributed Filipinos' lack of soft skills, also called "Transversal Competencies" (TVC), to training programs that are geared towards the pre-digital era.

"As we move deeper into the 21st century, the need for a workforce proficient in TVCs becomes increasingly critical," the authors stated, noting that this issue affects Filipinos' career prospects and the country's economic competitiveness and innovation potential.

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The study was authored by De La Salle University Distinguished University Professor and University Fellow Allan Bernardo, PIDS Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon Albert, former Supervising Research Specialist Jana Flor Vizmanos, and Research Analyst Mika Muñoz.

To address this gap, there should be a "concerted effort" from educational institutions, policymakers, and industry leaders to redefine skills development frameworks and prioritize the cultivation of these essential competencies, they added.

Filipino workers, according to the study, need strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills alongside effective communication, collaboration, and teamwork to adapt to evolving tasks.

Soft skills like adaptability, self-motivation, and resilience further equip individuals to handle challenges and excel in a changing work environment, the authors also said.

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While the authors acknowledged the widespread importance of TVC, they also pointed out that a consistent definition across different sectors remains elusive which hinders its measurement and development.

They said there was a need to refine the understanding of these skills given diverse interpretations and ever-changing job demands.

Meanwhile, the study highlighted the importance of equipping educators with tools and resources to effectively teach TVCs, as well as the alignment of educational programs with real-world job demands.

"A comprehensive strategy is needed to consider the purpose, domains, and types of assessments for TVCs. This strategy should not only support ongoing human capital development but also identify current workforce competency gaps," the authors said.

"Ultimately, such a strategy will be crucial in cultivating a future-proof and competent Filipino workforce," they concluded.


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