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Empowering and Upskilling Online Professionals in the Philippines

According to a new study by a global online payment platform, the young and digitally savvy Philippine freelance market accounts for approximately 2% of the population and is expected to grow further. According to the report, the freelancer market in the Philippines is expanding and poised for further expansion, with more Filipinos seeking freelance work from abroad.

To address this, Filipino freelancers or online professionals need to be provided with continuous education and training, according to a chairperson from an online community focused on online professional service.

The chairperson of the online professional’s service company recently provided recommendations on how the government can assist online professionals in the country as a discussant in a webinar on crowd work jointly organised by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the International Development Research Centre.

For instance, she emphasised the importance of using the term “online professionals” rather than “freelancers” when referring to people who work in the online industry for better representation. The chairperson also stated that online professionals must learn new skills and gain confidence to succeed in the face of increasing competition in the online industry. She urged online professionals, both beginners and skilled ones, to seek advice from different industry representatives, to be better informed about the online industry.

More importantly, the chairperson stated that there is a need to support the government’s continuous education and upskilling programmes and initiatives for online professionals, such as the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Philippine job portal.

“The online industry is evolving every two to four weeks as new technologies are being introduced in the market. Policies should be in place to protect specifically those who are starting or in the entry-level to benefit from digital platforms. However, policy creation should go hand-in-hand with education awareness [to inform the public] that there are government agencies and programmes that are giving free training so that people have a chance to be part of the online industry,” the chairperson explained.

OpenGov Asia reported that The Philippines, the second-most populous country in Southeast Asia, is a large and rapidly developing e-commerce market. The Philippines has a digital population of more than 67 million people, with a low income but high growth, attracting both local and regional companies competing against a dominant player.

Despite this, e-commerce accounts for less than 1% of total sales in the Philippines, the market is expected to grow at a high double-digit rate in the coming years. Though not as mature as Malaysian e-commerce or as thriving as Indonesian e-commerce, the Philippines’ population of more than 100 million people makes the country very appealing.

Concerning infrastructure, the organisation’s chairperson urged the government to “create an online system for registration and payment of dues” to encourage online professionals to “register their businesses.” She also emphasised the importance of providing the country with a faster and more stable internet connection. Along this line, she also recommended creating a law that will provide online professionals with a welfare administration, similar to a welfare administration for workers, which aims to promote the rights and protect the welfare of OFWs.

Ultimately, the chairperson advocated for increased funding for online-based cooperatives that aim to assist online professionals in developing their careers in the online industry. “Our mission is to help fellow Filipino online professionals achieve a more sustainable livelihood in the online workspace by providing support through continuous education, marketing, mentoring, and leadership equipping,” she explained.

In this new economy, knowledge and information have replaced labour as the primary factors of production. In this context, innovation and technological progress have a significant impact on long-term economic development. In this information age, electronic commerce is crucial for enterprise competitivity, ensuring access to new market segments, increasing the speed of developing business, increasing the flexibility of commercial policies, decreasing provisioning, sale, and advertising costs and simplifying procedures.

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