To meet the country’s demand for civil engineers amidst a projected boom in the country’s private construction industry, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need to entice more students to take up the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand in senior high school.
Gatchalian cited private market research firm GlobalData which estimated that the construction industry in the Philippines was valued at around P3 trillion pesos in 2021. The industry is also estimated to further grow at an average annual growth rate of 7 percent until 2026, by which time the industry is expected to reach a market size of P4.20 trillion.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education also took note that for 2023, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is allotted P893.12 billion or 16.95% of the P5.27 trillion national budget—the highest share of public spending on infrastructure since 2019.
Gatchalian, however, lamented that not so many students are taking up the STEM strand in senior high school, and even fewer pass the Civil Engineering Board Exam. For School Year 2022-2023, only 23.24% of 2.8 million senior high school students surveyed by the Department of Education (DepEd) are enrolled in the STEM strand. The average passing rate in the civil engineering licensure exams from 2017 to 2022 was at 41.4 percent, adding an average of 8,742 civil engineers annually. To date, there are more than 170,000 licensed civil engineers.
The lawmaker estimates that additional 56,000 civil engineers are needed by 2026, with a projected average of almost 14,000 new civil engineers annually between 2023 and 2026. An average of 2,486 BS Civil Engineering graduates have left the Philippines every year from 2018 to 2022,
“We need to take steps to increase the number of students in our human capital pool who are prepared to pursue further studies in civil engineering, to take and pass the board exams, and to stay and work as civil engineers in the country that will enable the government to meet its infrastructure needs,” said Gatchalian.
To entice more students to take up the STEM academic strand in senior high school, Gatchalian proposes including senior high school students to scholarships offered by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute to students at the tertiary level. He also emphasized the need to update the STEM curriculum and equip students with the tools they need to catch up on trends in the civil engineering profession.