“In order for PH face up to competition in AEC, the country needs to sharply ramp up investment spending in science, technology and R&D (aka knowledge capability building [KCB]). If this is achieved along with other ongoing policy and institutional reforms, the economy could in time be on a stronger platform to face up to AEC challenges. Otherwise, an uncompetitive Philippines may have to bear with a double whammy of (a) dumping of products from other countries, and (b) accelerating drain of its already scarce high-level human resources to greener pastures, thereby further hurting manufacturing besides agriculture.
“The objective should be to rapidly raise the investment budget for KCB toward the UNESCO norm of 1.0 percent of GDP from around 0.15 percent currently. Such a steep climb in KCB investment may not be too tall an order if the private sector (say, the 20 largest corporations that are among the most likely to benefit from high-level human-capital workforce) cooperates more closely with the government. In short, public-private partnerships in KCB along with universities whose function it is to generate the human capital and research output, as has been the praxis and experience in PH’s more advanced Asian neighbors.
These were among the recommendations of a paper authored by Professor Emeritus Ernesto Pernia of the UPD School of Economics, Dean Ramon Clarete of the UPD School of Economics, and VP Gisela P. Padilla-Concepcion of the UPD Marine Science Institute (a committee created by UP President Alfredo E. Pascual to provide the background and rationale for scaling up investment in higher education and R&D in particular).
The policy paper compares the Philippines’ with its Asean and East Asian neighbors, in terms of various economic (growth, income and poverty, employment and economic sectors, regional and global competitiveness), and R&D and other education indicators. The Philippines has the lowest public spending on education, as well as research and development in the region.
The paper calls for “massive investment in Master-of-Science (MS) programs”, and “especially for R&D in technology-based manufacturing industries and knowledge-based BPOs”.
“At the same time, the Bachelor-of-Science (BS) programs must be strengthened especially in terms of their technical components, such that graduates could also be readily employed in industries, prior perhaps to pursuing higher degrees. Likewise, institutions like TESDA should be geared to providing solid vocational/technical training of workers in large numbers (as in South Korea, for example) who are especially needed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that constitute the predominant majority (>95 per cent) of the industrial sector.
Abridged versions of the paper were also featured recently in the Star Science column of PhilStar.