Reforms in the country’s education system should focus on equipping future workers with skills needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which will be crucial to post-pandemic recovery, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
According to a December 2021 Discussion Paper by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), 62% of the country’s workers have skill sets that are largely composed of social and basic skills.
While these workers remain in demand in sectors such as hotel/restaurant/tourism, wholesale and retail trade, and health and wellness, the study pointed out that developments in the information and communications technology (ICT) — the focal point of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — highlighted occupations that are geared towards more intensive use of ICT, data analytics, and high value-adding social skills.
Among the top employment generators, the IT-BPM and manufacturing sectors are looking to fill jobs with more analytical skills, including quality assurance analysts and IT support staff. Even the field of agribusiness has a clear need of workers with highly specific skills such as technical experts, managers, pathologists, biologists, engineers, and quality control technicians.
The study emphasized the role of Philippine higher education institutions in developing cognitive and noncognitive skills, which can enhance general and specific skills needed in the workplace. Failure to address issues in the basic education sector can also result in the workforce missing out on reskilling and upskilling opportunities.
Gatchalian sponsored Senate Bill No. 2485 or the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II), which seeks to undertake a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector for the purpose of recommending transformative, concrete and targeted reforms in the sector.
The study also recommended leveraging technical-vocational education and training (TVET) programs, especially for workers who wish to shift their career paths. It also emphasized the need to assess the quality of jobs created by expanding sectors and ensure the availability of reskilling and upskilling programs.
“Nakita natin ngayong panahon ng pandemya na hindi na natin maaaring ipagpaliban ang ating kahandaan para sa malawakang paggamit ng teknolohiya sa iba’t ibang mga propesyon. Kailangang tiyakin nating taglay ng mga kabataan ang mga kakayahang kinakailangan sa gitna ng patuloy na modernisasyon,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.