THE Philippines should “overhaul” the educational curriculum to keep up with new technologies and to keep attracting foreign investors, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said.
“In the Philippines, we have a demographic dividend, the average age of our population being just 25 to 26 years old,” the Trade chief said. However, he said, while the country seems to have a “demographic advantage,” it is a challenge at the same time.
To harvest the demographic dividend, Pascual emphasized the need to train these young people.
“It is hard to change mindsets and policies, but we need to overhaul the educational curriculum to include the fundamentals of new technologies, so that the graduate can be employable after completion of basic education,” Pascual told an international publication in an interview published on the Trade chief’s social media page on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, today, a lot of graduates do not fit the requirements of industry and labor markets,” the Trade chief also noted.
Pascual also said there are “academics” who think they educate students for some other purpose, to be “good citizens.”
While this is part of educating students, the Trade chief said “there are realities in the world,” which he said requires young people to be fit for specific jobs and in order to keep attracting foreign investors to the Philippines.
In August 2022, Pascual questioned the K to 12 education program, which he said is supposed to produce graduates who are “technologically and technically qualified to work.”
However, he said earlier this has not happened to a great extent for many reasons, including the availability of competent teachers. Pascual also noted, “it will take a long time for this to be solved.”
While awaiting reforms that would produce workers with digital skills, there could be a short-term solution for the manpower shortage in the country, according to Pascual. “So, the shortcut is for companies themselves to do the training.”
“These days, the training they need is very focused; as long as you get a literate candidate for employment, you can provide intensive training for a few weeks…focus only on the job to be done,” Pascual had said at the 43rd National Conference of Employers in August 2022.
The Trade chief said he would promote in the Philippines’s educational system the so-called “micro-credentialing,” a process where short courses only take a few weeks or few months focusing only on specific skills, which can then be the basis for hiring people.
Meanwhile, the Philippines Jobs report which was released by the World Bank last week noted that the education and skills development environment suggests that “the country has a long way to go to adapt to the global megatrends of Industrial 4.0.”
“It was only in 2017 that the K-12 reform, introduced in 2013, commenced implementation, and the expansion of tertiary education has been slow in spite of the increased number of individuals with secondary education,” the report also noted.