SFI and Kuder ushering in an era of Filipinos fulfilled and secure in their jobs
The partnership between SFI Group and Kuder aims to help Filipinos find fulfilling and secure jobs that are commensurate to their passions, skills, and interests. This is a herculean task in the Philippines where families and institutions generally play a significant role in shaping and determining a person’s career path.
“The vision that we see in the Philippines is to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of the Filipino workforce,” said SFI President and CEO Luis Alberto Anastacio in an interview at the Marco Polo Hotel.
“We want to understand the interests and passions of individuals and align them to the right career pathways. Align them to the kind of jobs that they will be successful with and be happy with it. Align them for their future growth in terms of being part of the workforce,” explained Anastacio, an expert in the field of human resources development backed by more than two decades of experience in the industry that helps individuals find fulfilling careers.
Dearth of Guidance Counselors
Filipinos are known globally as hardworking, talented, adaptable, easy-to-work with and most disciplined workers. Proof is the high demand for Filipinos among employers overseas in any industry, be it in banking, finance, journalism, academe, hotel and restaurant, medical, retail, hospitality, and entertainment.
But in the Philippines, there is a prevalence of job and skill mismatch, of employees who are not happy and fulfilled with what they are doing. As a result, productivity is low. And worse, employees keep on changing jobs regularly.
In a 2017 survey made by Jobstreet.com, an online job portal, revealed that Filipinos are unhappy at work due to lack of career development and training opportunities. Around 23 percent of the respondents said resigning or getting a new job would make them happy.
The job and skill mismatch and other work-related problems stem mainly from poor career planning. Among other reasons, this is due to the influence of the family, especially the parents, on what courses in college their children should take up that eventually determine their careers, as well as the lack of guidance counselors in schools.
“There are only close to around 3,700 professionals registered as guidance counselors in the Philippines because it requires a masteral level and at the same time they have to pass a professional licensure examination to be a registered guidance counselor,” he said.
“Because of that, you need to build a base of 42,000 to 45,000 registered guidance counselors to provide the service for all the schools. The question is, can we provide that number? In that sense, there is a dearth in terms of the professionals providing the service. Is there a way we can provide the service still without compromising the standard?” Anastacio said.
This is where SFI and Kuder will come in.
“So the career planning system of Kuder becomes a significant part of addressing the pain points not only of Deped (Department of Education) but also of TESDA and CHED and actual workforce, which is under the Department of Labor and Employment,” he said.
Online Guidance Solutions
Servicio Filipino Inc. or SFI Group, the 58-year-old human resources conglomerate that specializes in human capital, research, recruitment, and placement, is partnering with US-based Kuder to put in place a full-scale, national career development strategy to address the needs and concerns of various stakeholders concerning human capital development in the Philippines.
SFI and Kuder are planning to work closely with government agencies such as the Education and the Labor, Trade and Industry, and Labor and Employment departments, Commission on Higher Education, TESDA, and various institutions including schools, universities and colleges.
A nearly 80-year-old company, Kuder provides online guidance solutions that has helped more than 165 million people worldwide map out career paths that suit their interests, passions and skills. Kuder has customizable and comprehensive tools and resources including research-based assessments and actionable guidance, to help individuals find fulfilling careers in any stage of their life.
“The assessment of Kuder will help us address the career interests, the work place values and how individuals rate themselves in terms of their skills. So all of the information is actually self-discovery,” said Anastacio.
The information that will be gathered from these exercises and assessments will help individuals understand their strengths and weaknesses to propel them to the kind of career paths that they are interested and passionate about.
“What if I can show you certain things that you didn’t know about yourself, would that help you in terms of planning for yourself, planning your career in the future? And that is significant because a lot of people would lose hope because they don’t know what to do. Now it gives you clarity of where you are, you can pause and be able to see what’s in front of you, understand your strengths, build on your weaknesses and drive you to the areas that you are interested and passionate about,” Anastacio said.
Bailey Rowell, vice president for international business development at Kuder, further elaborates on the partnership with SFI: “SFI has the local expertise and understanding of particular issues and pain points when it comes to developing human capital here in the Philippines. Kuder brings in a global perspective.”
The potent combination of global and local expertise might just be the solution to address the key issues hounding the labor market including the mismatch between skills and educational background of the workforce versus the needs of various industries and the mismatch between the interests and passions of individuals versus the careers that they are pursuing that lead to frustrations and unhappiness in the workplace.
“So we call it a glocal approach. Kuder has the global expertise and proven guidance having worked from the Middle East to East Africa to Singapore and other parts of Asia (China, South Korea) as well as the United States. We see the vision of being able to provide not only a workforce in the Philippines that has the skills but also has the ability and passion to pursue to develop the economy together,” Rowell added.
Three years ago, Anastacio and Rowell met at a career development conference in Manila where they were both speakers. After changing information, they decided to form a partnership that would bring in their combined expertise to, among others, help Filipinos find a fulfilling career based on their interests, passions, and skills as early as in the elementary or high school and all the way to adulthood.
“We are providing resources starting as early as pre-kindergarten all the way to adulthood and retirement. At each stage in life, we have opportunities to engage in career planning. In the first part of that in the career planning process is to assess where you’re at. Understand your interests, your values and your skills and how they relate to the opportunities that are based on the fact of making you happy and feel fulfilled in your career,” Rowell said.
Partnership for Progress
Before the announcement of the partnership with Kuder on March 20, SFI has been largely off the radar. Not much was heard about the company, which is ironic given the kind of work that it does and its impact on society.
Headquartered in Quezon City, SFI has worked with several government agencies including the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in talent mapping and the development of the new PhilJobNet platform, an online system that matches jobseekers and employers, providing a list of vacancies, career advice, among other information.
The country’s first ever talent mapping was implemented on 81 provinces in the Philippines using competency-based assessments and standardized surveys. It was done to determine and track the strengths of the country’s workforce and diagnose the weaknesses and gaps in the labor force. The result was used as a springboard to link the academe, the government, the workforce and the industries in addressing the job-skill mismatch and in the process increase the employability of the Filipinos.
SFI’s first signed an agreement with DOLE for the talent mapping project in December 2014 and it was extended for another five years in March 2017 under the term of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Anastacio is confident that SFI and Kuder can replicate the success of the talent mapping program with DOLE in this new endeavor.
“It’s a partnership for progress,” said Anastacio.
“In launching a career planning system with Kuder for the Philippines, there is an overarching vision: What if the Philippines can have a national career development strategy? What do we mean by that? People who understand their skills, their interests and their passions and then they can align themselves to the right career planning, then be able to open their own doors because they understand their full potentials. They are going to be successful. Apart from that, if you are successful, financial success will follow. Then personal satisfaction comes in. Imagine a workplace where everyone is happy and satisfied. Now imagine what it can do to the economy,” Anastacio said.
Because this project is part of Anastacio’s goal of giving back to society, SFI and Kuder will be offering its services, be it career coaching or career planning, at “very affordable prices” so that more Filipinos, especially those in the rural areas and other far-flung places in the country, can afford and benefit from them.
After all, a happy and fulfilled workforce translates to a more productive country.