The year 2015 has ended and I can’t help but be amazed on how Online Freelancing in the Philippines has grown for the past year (2015). Many have accepted and recognized Online Freelancing as a good career option, starting from the private sector, the academe and then the government. Allow me to list down how the online jobs industry have flourished and how will it be even better in 2016.
THE GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE – “The Rural Impact Sourcing Workshop”
The “Rural Impact Sourcing Workshop (RIS)” is the government’s program under the DigitalPH initiative whose main goal is to promote Online Jobs in the countryside. For the past years, the government has been in the look out for ways in solving the unemployment problem and the congestions in major cities. The initial goal is to bring call center and BPO companies in the countryside to help boost the local economy and, at the same time, provide job opportunities to the locals so they don’t need to move to big cities just to find jobs. Unfortunately, there are criteria and requirements that these areas need to meet in order for big companies to come and operate. Fortunately, the government, through DOST ICT Office saw that there is an emerging industry that can provide good income and livelihood to graduates and professionals in these provinces. Thus, Rural Impact Sourcing workshop and roadshow was born.
I was fortunate enough to be part of this initiative since it has been rolled out last May 2014. Through OnlineJobsUniversity.com, an online-training platform that I’ve started last 2013, I conduct the workshop part of the road show typically attended by around 200 to 400 participants per area that we visited. So far, since 2014, we’ve conducted 12 workshop sessions in different parts of the country.
In addition to this initiative is the roll out of Free Public WIFI access in different cities throughout the country. There has also been Tech4Ed centers being rolled out that will provided free access to computer and internet in many cities and municipalities all over the country. Needless to say, the government is helping in providing the right infrastructure, access to technology and of course, training that leads to jobs, which in this case, are online jobs.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVE
The private sector has also seen the rise of the online freelancing industry and come up with ways on how to help and support the online freelancers need. One noteworthy company is Horsepower.ph. So what is so special about Horsepower.ph? They basically provide HR Services and Benefits options to self-employed (Online Freelancers included). This is one of the major concerns of online freelancers since they are on their own and without any company helping them with their government mandated benefits and privilege, they ended up not having any of it. Through Horsepower.ph, Online Freelancers now have options to choose from.
Another area the private sector is helping out the online freelancing community is the number of co-working spaces opening up all over the country. Online Freelancers are commonly known to be always working from home, but there has been a change of preference as of late where online freelancers are opting to working outside of their homes. Before, the only available option are coffee shops, but with co-working spaces sprouting in strategic locations, Freelancers now has a better access to a place that is conducive for work and has a fast internet connection. One good example of a co-working space is the “A Clean Place” located at the heart of Ortigas Center, Pasig. (Shown in the photo above.)
THE ACADEME INITIATIVE
Schools and universities are also part of this online freelancing growth. With the full roll out of K-to-12 program of the Department of Education, senior high school and college students are being oriented about the different work opportunities available to them online. Some schools are already looking for ways to make online freelancing work qualifies as an OJT for students. There has also been different talks and seminars organized by school organizations regarding online freelancing.
Lastly, during the rural impact sourcing workshops sessions I’ve conducted, almost 80% to 90% of the participants are students and fresh graduates. Needless to say, the next generation of graduates & professionals are more aware of the available online jobs and opportunities for them. Most likely, many of them will become online freelancers, but of course, only time and economic condition can tell.
THE PLATFORMS, GATEWAYS AND ONLINE COMMUNITY’S INITIATIVE
This year, Online Jobs Platforms like Freelancer.com and Upwork.com did lots of activities that support & nourishes the online freelancing community. They’ve also organized Christmas parties for online freelancers in major cities to build a sense of community and belongingness. As you may have known, online freelancers basically work alone. Thus, having activities like these will surely help a lot. In addition, both platforms are also part of the Rural Impact Sourcing workshop that I’ve mentioned earlier.
Another major sign of growth is the entry of Payoneer.com in the country. Them entering the Philippine market and wanting to establish a solid user base here is a good indicator that the Online Freelancing Industry in the Philippines will only get better. I was invited to give a talk on their first “Payoneer Forum” in the country last June 2015 which was attended by more than 350 people and I can say that they are really serious in helping and supporting the online freelancing industry grow by providing Filipino freelancers another option of receiving payments from clients abroad.
Lastly, communities of online freelancers are more active now compared to last year. They’ve organized their own events, meet ups and gatherings. This goes to show that they are now more open in dealing and interacting with other Filipino Online Freelancers.
As a conclusion to all that happened this 2015 for the online freelancing industry here in the Philippines, the modest estimate number of active online freelancers in the country (about 1 to 2 million) will continue to grow even further as the acceptance and support of the different sectors of our society continues. On my part, as an Online Freelancing & Outsourcing Advocate in the Philippines, will continue to conduct trainings, workshops and talks to further help the growth of online freelancing in the country and be recognized as a “Freelancing Nation”.
(This post was written by Genesis Reonico – Founder and Managing Director of OnlineJobsUniversity.com and Chief Evangelist for Horsepower.ph. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)