Bernardo M. Villegas
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Job Opportunities for Filipino Youth (Part 6)

          To recapitulate, the Filipino youth of today, especially those belonging to Generation Z, face very bright job prospects as the Philippine economy transitions from a low-middle-income economy (less than $4,000 per capita per annum) to a high-middle income one ($4,000 to $10,000 per capita per annum).  There will be the largest demand for technical skills which do not require a college diploma in the sunrise sectors such as agribusiness, logistics, tourism, construction, health care, manufacturing, entertainment, fashion, furnishings and real estate.  These same sunrise sectors will also require a large pool of college graduates who will be majoring in engineering, the sciences, technology, mathematics, medicine, architecture, business administration, law, and the social sciences.  To guarantee long-term professional growth in a rapidly changing environment, all should be interested in acquiring at any stage of their learning process a strong foundation in the liberal arts so as to develop the most vital human skills of critical thinking, effective communication. and the ability to interact with and understand other people.  It would be ideal if this liberal arts foundation is acquired as early as possible after graduating from high school. As much as possible even STEM courses should have a foundational introduction to the liberal arts, such as the Management Engineering course of the Ateneo or the LIA-COM course of De La Salle University.   I am also proud to mention that the University of Asia and the Pacific, where I teach, requires a liberal arts foundation for any of the specializations we offer such as economics, political economy, management, education, engineering, information technology, law, accounting and integrated marketing communication.  This humanities foundation for any professional specialization is taken for granted as a must in the best schools in the U.S. such as Harvard, Yale or Stanford; in the U.K such as Oxford or Cambridge; or Spain, such as the University of Navarre ranked as the third best university in Europe after Oxford and Cambridge.

         In the global market for Filipino manpower, one can predict with the greatest certainty that Filipino seafarers will always be in demand for the foreseeable future.  Today, our country accounts for more than 30 percent of the entire international seafaring force, supplying close to 500,000 seamen at all levels.  Our maritime schools produce an average 300,000 graduates yearly to supply both the domestic and international demand.  In addition to the maritime workers, Filipinos also are omnipresent in ocean liners and cruise ships as cooks, waiters, laundry people, entertainers and other sundry personnel.  Increasingly, Filipinos are occupying higher positions as officers aboard ships as the traditional suppliers of these positions such as Japan and the Scandinavian countries are ageing inexorably.  Some of our leading companies providing the world with seafarers, such as the Magsaysay, Delgado, and Salinas families, are tying up with foreign partners (like TDG with NYK) to produce highly qualified officers in training institutes in the Philippines.  I expect this trend to intensify.  We can fully exploit our competitive advantage in this sector which can be expressed in this compliment received by Filipino seafarers by their employers: “They are seafarers by nature, dedicated, hardworking, flexible, reliable, fluent in English, highly trainable and adaptive to changing environments, equipped with problem-solving capability and law abiding.”  Together with India and China, the Philippines will be providing the world with seafarers for a long time to come.   

         We cannot end this survey of job opportunities for the Filipino youth in the next twenty years without citing the need for superior skills in such fields as Information Technology, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology (material sciences) that should be acquired by the intellectual elite of this country from whatever social class they may come. We cannot allow the Philippines to fall into the same middle-income trap as many high-middle income countries like Argentina, Venezuela, South Africa and Greece because they did not invest in research and development in the basic sciences that nurtured the technologies of the future.  We should encourage the best minds among our youth to pursue Ph.D. courses in these leading fields by enrolling in the best universities all over the world as occurred in China, Taiwan and South Korea over the last twenty years or so.  When these Ph.D. graduates returned to their respective countries, they were responsible for improving significantly the quality of tertiary education, especially in these leading fields as well the research and development centers that were put by both government and the private sector.  Together with stable macroeconomic institutions, high-quality infrastructure, improving governance in both the public and private sectors, heavy investments in quality university education and research and development will help us eventually transition from high-middle income to First World status by the second half of this century, following the path that South Korea has trodden over the last twenty to thirty years.  For comments, my email address is