August 25, 2022

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Higher tech content in agri demands skills upgrades

TECHNICAL SKILLS among agricultural workers need to be upgraded to make the industry future-ready and more attractive to tech-savvy younger people, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said.

“What we have seen in agricultural processing plants is the need to prioritize both the volume of agricultural output and worker skills. We know that skills are important in everything,” PCCI President George T. Barcelon said.

“We’d really like to attract younger people into the sector. To attract them, we must make agriculture relevant. It should be updated with the latest technologies because international agricultural standards are now using electronics and the Internet of Things (IoT),” he added.

Mr. Barcelon made the remarks as PCCI Human Resources Development Foundation, (HRDF) Inc. was launching a study on developing the workforce for the fruit and vegetable processing industry, supported by the Australian Government and implemented by Philippine Business for Education (PBEd).

According to PBEd, skills upgrades are “in line with the Philippine government’s priority to improve the agriculture sector through collaboration between the government and private stakeholders.”

Australian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Richard Sisson said that the Australian government supported the study to ensure that Philippine industries and the workforce are prepared for the future. 

“This labor market intelligence study focuses on an important agricultural sector, the fruit and vegetable processing sector, and we are very happy to see strategies developed from the study recommendations,” Mr. Sisson said.

“Agriculture is a priority for the Philippines, and we are happy to contribute to its development,” he added.

Among the key recommendations of the study are incorporating digital solutions, warehousing and logistics, and soft skills into training programs for the industry.

For the current workforce, employers should also enroll employees for career development as well as the overall development of the industry, according to the study.

“As the country recovers from the pandemic, our efforts should focus on strengthening the country’s agriculture sector to ensure that our people have food on the table. We propose creating a human resource training plan for the fruits and vegetables processing sector,” HRDF President Alberto P. Fenix, Jr. said.

“We believe that a skilled and qualified workforce is an imperative for the growth and development of any sector or industry,” he added.

PBEd said that the next step is to roll out the study’s results to various parts of the country within the year to gather other possible inputs from stakeholders. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson