Business World

OFW fo­cus pro­duc­ing short­ages in crit­i­cal oc­cu­pa­tions — ADB

- Dan­ica M. Uy Asian Development Bank · Austria · Belarus · ASEAN · Iceland · American Samoa · Philippines · Cambodia · Malaysia · United Arab Emirates · Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development · Belgium · Indonesia · Laos

THE Philippine ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and gov­ern­ment pol­icy are geared to­wards ex­port­ing highly skilled la­bor, re­sult­ing in do­mes­tic la­bor short­ages in key oc­cu­pa­tions, the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank (ADB) re­ported.

“Filipino gov­ern­ment ef­forts to pro­mote the post­sec­ondary and univer­sity-level ed­u­ca­tion of its pop­u­la­tion were driven, at least in part, by the goal of ex­port­ing high-skilled work­ers,” ac­cord­ing to a Fe­bru­ary re­port, “Fir­ing Up Re­gional Brain Net­works: The Prom­ise of Brain Cir­cu­la­tion in the ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity.”

“While the amount of re­mit­tances sent by these work­ers is high ($27 bil­lion in 2014), the gov­ern­ment-spon­sored emi­gra­tion has had a neg­a­tive side ef­fect: it has contribute­d to do­mes­tic la­bor short­ages, par­tic­u­larly in skilled oc­cu­pa­tions such as nurs­ing, en­gi­neer­ing, and avi­a­tion,” ADB said.

Ac­cord­ing to the bank, the Philip­pines ex­pe­ri­enced the largest brain drain among the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) with 64% of highly skilled work­ers leav­ing the coun­try in 2010.

“While fewer than 10% of mi­grant adults in Cam­bo­dia and Malaysia have a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, 64% of those in the Philip­pines do,” said ADB.

Ac­cord­ing to ADB, most of these highly skilled work­ers left for the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) as tourists.

“This route al­lows in­di­vid­u­als to by­pass gov­ern­ment re­cruit­ment pro­grams (which are time-con­sum­ing and costly) and the need to look for an em­ployer that can spon­sor them for an in­tra­com­pany trans­fer or other em­ploy­ment visa,” read the re­port as reg­is­tra­tion sys­tems are te­dious and tightly reg­u­lated by do­mes­tic laws.

The Philip­pines sends 52% of its highly ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tion to Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD) coun­tries.

“Mi­grants re­spond to other coun­tries’ higher wages and bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, prospects for pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and con­tin­u­ous ed­u­ca­tion, and op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with other skilled per­sons in tal­ent clus­ters.”

How­ever, de­spite these prob­lems, ADB said that “brain cir­cu­la­tion” is im­por­tant to ASEAN coun­tries with skill and tal­ent short­ages.

“Put dif­fer­ently, no ASEAN coun­try can be self-suff icient when it comes to tal­ent,” said ADB.

“Fur­ther­more, and un­like in the past, pro­fes­sion­als are mov­ing to a range of coun­tries within ASEAN, not just to the most wealthy. These con­cur­rent trends sug­gest that ASEAN Mem­ber States may in­creas­ingly both send and re­ceive skilled per­sons,” it added.

Ac­cord­ing to the bank, growth in the num­ber of peo­ple at­tain­ing a univer­sity de­gree has grown in 30 years across all coun­tries in the ASEAN.

The Philip­pines was able to grow its univer­sity en­rollees 94.6% from 1990 to 2011.

Data from the re­port showed that 5.5% of the Filipino pop­u­la­tion aged over 15 com­pleted ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in 2010, a lower per­cent­age com­pared with the 8.2% recorded in 1980.

The coun­try has also been suc­cess­ful in terms of fin­ish­ing high school with 23.8% of the pop­u­la­tion aged over 15 able to com­plete se­condary school­ing in 2010 com­pared with the 13.1% recorded 30 years be­fore.

ADB also ex­pects the coun­try’s la­bor force to con­tinue to grow over the next few decades, along with other ASEAN such as Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia and Lao Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Repub­lic (Lao PDR) and this growth is “likely to en­cour­age peo­ple of work­ing age-in­clud­ing the highly ed­u­cated to move within the re­gion.” —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines