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Improving job skills, key to economic growth

The Star - March 11, 2012. "The Philippines needs to reform its higher education system to improve workers’ skills and help boost economic growth, according to a study made by the World Bank."

"Building skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will increase work force productivity and creativity, according to a recent report quoting World Bank lead economist Emanuela di Gropello.

“Employers in both manufacturing and services in the East Asia and the Pacific region including the Philippines are looking for problem-solving, communications, management and other skills that will support higher productivity. Yet employer perceptions and wage skill premiums point to gaps in these skills in newly-hired professionals,” said di Gropello.

A recent study titled “Putting Higher Education to Work: Skills and Research for Growth in East Asia” found that in the Philippines and other low and middle-income countries in East Asia and the Pacific Region, the wide skills gaps in the service industry, export sector and technologically-intensive sector hamper innovation and productivity in the Philippines.

Employers and employees alike find these gaps to be particularly severe in creativity, leadership and problem-solving skills, the report said. The World Bank proposes that the Philippines government address the skills gap by maintaining coverage and improving the quality of graduates and to increase research relevant to economic needs in universities or departments.

This can be done by improving the allocation of public funds, granting autonomy to universities and encouraging select university-industry linkages to improve curriculum.

“Higher education is critical for sustained growth,” World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said.

“It can lift productivity and competitiveness by providing the high level skills demanded by the labour market and also by launching the kind of research needed for innovation and growth,” he said.

Chairwoman of the Commission on Higher Education Patricia B. Licuanan said the Philippines government is reforming the country’s higher education system to promote growth.

Reforms include rationalising higher education through measures such as a moratorium on new colleges and universities, improving quality and standards by phasing out and closing substandard programmes, complying with international standards, as well as developing research and development centres and world- class universities."


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