Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, May 22, 2009

Subic ICT talents raring for the big time

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—While Subic Bay remains outside the initial development spheres for the budding Philippine information and communications technology (ICT) industry, the area has been producing a growing talent pool that is now raring for recognition in various fields of the knowledge-based industry.

Industry experts in Subic told the BusinessMirror in exclusive interviews recently that local IT professionals have become proficient over the years and could now compete with some of the country’s best.

“Name it—systems development, database management, biometric solutions, web design, multimedia development, outsourcing and consulting —and the locals can do it,” said John Carlo Nova, president and chief executive officer of Victa Solutions, an IT firm based in Olongapo City that won an award for best website in the 11th Philippine Web Awards held in February.

The web site www.mistosmagsaysay.org, which was designed for Zambales First District Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, won in the celebrities and personalities category, besting the official web sites of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and broadcast journalist Daniel Razon.

“The Subic Bay area is teeming with capable and talented individuals, and should some investor put up any ICT/BPO/KPO business in the locality, there is no doubt that local talents can fill the manpower needs,” Nova added.

The 26-year-old Nova, who has a degree and an academic excellence award in computer science, has kept faith in the capability of local talents by hiring talents straight out of a local computer school.

“Most of our developers are graduates of the Comteq Computer and Business College because this is the only school which provides solid IT instructions in the Subic-Olongapo City area,” Nova explained.

“Comparatively speaking, students and graduates of Comteq display more than competence; they are good in team efforts, they understand the need for promptness with their deliverables, and they have high morale, which results in tension-free work even when there is pressure,” he added.

For the Magsaysay web-site project, for example, Victa Solutions tapped several programmers and developers from Comteq to beef up the firm’s technical staff. These included Comteq instructors Jov Mark Felarca, who helped out in planning, concept development and project management; Ryan Macaspac, who assisted in research and development; and Anjo Catindig, who executed graphic design and animation.

Two Comteq students, Ederson Lim and Paul Ameer Jaime, meanwhile, assisted in Web development.

“The task for the web-site design concept was handed down to us with no specific instruction regarding color scheme and design, so the design team really had to brainstorm for two concepts and then decide later which had the better look and feel,” Nova recalled.

“When it was announced that we won the best design, we were really surprised because we knew we were up against some of the most competitive sites there were in the celebrities category,” he said.

Comteq administrator Ansbert Joaquin, meanwhile, revealed this was not the first time that their students shone in the field of ICT, pointing out that another team, headed by Comteq’s Felarca, became the overall winner in Globe Telecom’s G-Cash competition last year.

“The Subic Bay area is actually brimming with ICT talents, despite the apparent disinterest of big companies to invest in the area,” Joaquin said.

“Because of this very sad situation, the best talents in Subic are pirated out of the area by companies in Manila or even those based abroad,” he added.

Among those who have been successfully wooed out of Subic, Joaquin said, are Comteq graduates who have designed and developed software for FedEx’s Asia hub loading and destination planning system; computer generated images for the Subic-based Idess Interactive Technologies; point of sale and payroll systems for various Subic locators; data systems for Meralco, United Coconut Planters Bank and Global Steel Philippines; as well as banking solutions software for the Slovenska Sporitelna (Europe) Bank.

Earlier, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has noted that the Subic Bay area has lagged in attracting investments in BPO and knowledge-based industries.

According to SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, Subic has to provide additional incentives to pioneering knowledge-based industries for the free port to make a significant presence in the burgeoning Philippine BPO market.

Arreza added that the SBMA will now work with local schools to enhance their ICT curriculum and initiate the development of an IT park within the free port.

Nova and Joaquin said these developments are what local talents have been waiting for.

“There was a time when they lamented that investors in ICT were most willing, but the manpower supply was weak. Now the reverse may be true,” noted Joaquin.

“Today local ICT talents are raring to prove they’re among the best there is, but there is simply a shortage of opportunities to showcase their skills and abilities,” he added. Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror

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