Erriberto P. Barriga Jr., head of the Information and Communications Technology Association of Davao (ICT-Davao), said in an interview last weekend that he had gone to as far as General Santos City in Central Mindanao and Cagayan de Oro City in the north, but did not find even 10 who were qualified.
Experts have advised the Philippines to graduate to KPO, a segment of business process outsourcing (BPO) that requires more sophisticated analytical and design skills than voice-based operations.
This, as more developing countries have started to challenge the Philippines in attracting call center clients.
Schools, Mr. Barriga said, should start developing and offering KPO courses, such as gaming software development, if their graduates are to be readily employable.
Part of the problem, he said, is the lack of locators offering training in software development or any other KPO skills that are now increasingly in demand.
Last March, Mr. Barriga said, 42 universities in the Davao region produced 15,000 graduates with the usual skills required by voice-based outsourcing services.
"The challenge of ICT-Davao is not only to focus on Davao City but on the entire Mindanao," he said, adding the group is willing to work with schools to develop updated courses for students.
This year, the group expects Davao City to surpass its target 10,000 seats for call center -- or voice-based -- operations.
ICT-Davao, he said, is taking an inventory of skilled workers in the city to give potential investors a blueprint of what they are going to get if they set up shop here.
Edwin V. Maranon, spokesman of the Philippine Society of Information Technology Educators Foundation, earlier said it is difficult to make such an inventory because such workers are in high demand and are usually immediately hired by big companies in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, or even overseas.
The foundation estimates that only about a fifth of graduates in information technology courses here stay in the city to work.
The list of the top 10 "next wave cities" for BPO released last August by the Trade department, Business Processing Association of the Philippines and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology ranked Davao City as first, followed by Sta. Rosa, Laguna; as well as the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo City, Metro Cavite, Lipa, Cagayan de Oro, Malolos, Baguio and Dumaguete.