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EDITORIAL - Brain drain

With flashfloods crippling Metro Manila even in the absence of a typhoon, people are wondering whether the weather bureau is running out of manpower to carry out its tasks efficiently. Officials of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration denied this, saying that while some of its ranking officials have left, the agency is recruiting younger personnel.

There may be no significant brain drain at PAGASA, but the country can use more weather experts. The head of the Commission on Higher Education is urging high school graduates to consider meteorology as a career, saying job opportunities abound in this area.

In fact the country can use more people with specialized skills, especially if economic growth is sustained. Overseas Filipino workers may be accounting for much of the country’s strong economic performance, but the brain drain is being felt in many sectors.

Among the first to suffer from the brain drain was health care, with about 100 private hospitals being forced to shut down within a single year for lack of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Today, with global demand slowing, the Philippines has a glut of nurses but the shortage of doctors persists. There is a lack of skilled workers in industries such as aviation. Even business process outsourcing companies cannot find enough Filipinos to fill thousands of job vacancies.

No one can stop people from seeking greener pastures overseas if they can’t find better employment opportunities in their own country. The other alternative to deal with the brain drain and reduce the mismatch between job demand and supply is to encourage enrollment in lesser known higher education and vocational courses. There are many sectors needing special skills and expertise, and the demand is expected to grow. Many students can use a nudge in the right direction.

 

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