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Economy

Educational tech platform helps upskill jobless Filipinos 

Course Belt, an online learning platform that offers courses and resources, helps unemployed Filipinos and freelancers acquire skills relevant to the job market. 

Born at the beginning of the community quarantine and patterned after Udemy, an American online course provider, the platform has thus far attracted 21,000 students. A majority of the learners are between the ages of 20 to 40 years old, according to the company, and reflects the Filipino workforce’s demand to upskill for jobs in the digital space.

Course Belt founder Paolo R. Isyasa started as a one-man team with a one-page website offering a single course. The founder realized the potential of e-learning when the website got 1,000 paying students after a month of pre-selling. 

“When I launched Course Belt, I only spent P1,000,” he said. “I used it to buy the domain name and run paid ads. I then used all the revenues I got at the beginning to reinvest on the business and allot more budget on marketing to scale the business faster.”

CIIT College of Arts and Technology, a multimedia arts school, has since invested and contributed to Course Belt’s initial fund of P2 million for setting up the business.

“Eight months ago, I was severely burdened to see some of my friends lose their jobs because of the pandemic. So I asked myself, how can I help? That’s how Course Belt was born,” Mr.  Isyasa. “It’s a platform for learning new skills at one’s own pace. Filipinos have the guts and skills. We just need to empower them.” 

The learning platform has self-paced courses in copywriting, digital marketing, web development, SEO (search engine optimization) writing, Facebook Ads, graphic design, and social media management, among others. The price of each ranges from P199 to P499.

“Two of our most popular courses are the WordPress and marketing course, which teaches students to develop websites with a marketing touch, and the social media management course, which enables them to manage social media for personal brands or businesses,” Mr. Isyasa said.

“We currently don’t have partnerships with other businesses yet since most of the students who complete our courses apply to foreign companies,” he added, “so from our end, we make sure they have the skills foreign employers need in their businesses.”

According to the International Labor Organization, the economic recession due to the pandemic has led to 81 million jobs lost in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank  estimated that at least 2.1 million Filipino workers may have lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic. — Patricia B. Mirasol

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