Filipino freelancers have become more ingenious, teaching themselves digital skills to boost their potential to attract additional jobs and augment the small pay they are currently receiving.
“[The] majority of our freelance online workers simply learned on their own the skills that they now use in navigating the freelancing world,” Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development at the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), told the Inquirer on the sidelines of an event in Ortigas on Wednesday.
According to the DICT, a freelancer earns money from clients outside the Philippines on a per-job basis. There are currently 4 million online Filipino freelancers. With not enough money from their “primary” jobs, they turn to doing extra jobs for alternative revenue streams.
Batapa-Sigue said these freelancers need to continuously upskill themselves given the changing needs brought about by technology in the outsourcing industry.
About 83 percent of the Filipino freelancers said they self-study to upgrade their skills, according to the Philippine Online Freelancing Industry Study launched by the DICT on Wednesday. They usually do so by taking free online courses.
Own time and pace
Batapa-Sigue said this strategy was preferred by most, allowing them to do things at their own time and pace. She noted those who learn by themselves usually have a primary job with a fixed schedule.
The DICT study showed that others ask their friends for tutorials or hire paid tutors.
The official said the agency aimed to complement these efforts by launching training programs for them.
“We, at the DICT, continue to strive and support your initiatives to the best that we can as we aim to professionalize our freelancer communities,” Batapa-Sigue said.
Majority or about 59 percent of the respondents identified themselves as a virtual assistant, a kind of freelancer that has multiple skills such as data entry, social media, website update and video editing.
About 43 percent of the respondents claimed to have skills in social media marketing; 36.51 percent in data entry and transcription; and 34.48 percent in content creation.
Other skills identified by the Filipino freelancers were digital marketing, web research, customer service and tech, web development and design, online teaching and tutoring and project management.
Some 46 percent of the respondents said they secured their job from freelancing platform Onlinejobs.ph, while others got work via Upwork.com, Fiverr and Freelancer.com.
Among the freelancers’ concerns cited by the study were the costs needed to upskill themselves, lack of assurance for consistent income source and no benefits usually granted to company employees.
Respondents said, however, that freelancing allowed them to have relative financial stability, personal and professional growth and more family time.
The study, conducted from October 2021 to January 2022, attracted 2,224 respondents.
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