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How the Philippines' rising IT sector can service Japan: the Philippines boast some of the finest IT workers in the world, argues Jessica Pabellon - Opinion

NINE TOP IT COMPANIES from the Philippines participated in the 12th Software Development Expo and Conference (SODEC) 2003, held this July at the Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. SODEC is Japan's largest software development exhibition, and this year's Filipino presence was a first.

"SODEC is one of our best ICT projects to date," says Roman G. Baltazar, Tokyo-based Commercial Counselor for the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions. "It proves the competitive position of the Philippines in this sector--even in a non-English speaking environment such as Japan."

Japan's future labor shortages have been amply covered in the global media. Filipino laborers come from a multicultural society that makes them extremely adaptable to multinational work environments. They are not only multi-skilled, but English-proficient as well--and an increasing number are taking their communication skills a step further by mastering the Japanese language. They work long hours, and their salaries are typically one-tenth of their counterparts' earnings in the US.

With 643 IT schools, 400 technical schools and 86 colleges and universities turning out an estimated 350,000 graduates every year, the Philippines boasts a 94 percent literacy rate--and ranks second among 15 Asian countries in terms of training.

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