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The University of Cebu, in partnership with IBM, yesterday launched the “Earn as You Learn” program in its effort to further improve the quality of Cebu’s manpower pool specifically in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. EAYL, which was first introduced in Australia prior to its entry in Cebu, is an undergraduate course that combines specialized curriculum with real-life experience in a professional IT environment.

The program, which officially kicked-off at the start of 2010-2011 school year on June 15 with 16 pioneer scholars, is also strongly supported by the Bureau of Investments (BOI). “Global demand for IT is growing now more than ever. It spurs economic growth across all industries and economies. The collaboration will help address issues that collectively impact the IT industry,” said IBM Philippines country general manager James Velasquez.

For her part, UC chancellor Candice Gotianuy said partnering with IBM, which is the fourth largest technology provider in the world, paved the way for keeping Cebu’s edge in providing top notch manpower pool in the field of IT.

“We are excited to work with one of the giants in the IT industry,” Gotianuy said yesterday during the formal launching of the program at the UC Banilad Campus, which was also the formal turnover the 16 scholars, who will take up the four-year specialized course in Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT).

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña who also graced the event yesterday said that this academe-industry partnership is seen to reinforce Cebu’s position as the number one emerging BPO destination in the world.

“We have so much job vacancies, [especially in ICT/BPO sector] but the problem is we don’t have enough people who are ready for employment, the hiring rate is still so low at two percent. Therefore, it is commissioned upon us to improve the academe sector,” Osmena said.

The program, incorporated into a new degree program, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology—Professional Practice is intended to be completed over four years or eight semesters.