How do we fare compared to other ASEAN nations?

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

In the context of the inevitable ASEAN Integration in 2015, and in view of  the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community, how does our country, as a founding member of ASEAN fare competitively, based on generally established criteria, adopted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Human Capital Report in 2013? Can the Filipino human capital win in the ASEAN arena, vis-a-vis the talents from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, as well as those from Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia? We are afraid that the results are not very promising for our country. To our mind, we have to do a lot of last-minute preparation and readjustments, given the remaining eleven months before D-Day.

The Executive Chairman of the WEF, Klaus Shwab, has portentously forewarned: "The key to the future of any country and any institution lies in the talent, skills and capabilities of its people." The WEF Human Capital Report has four pillars of the Human Capital Index, namely: 1. Education, 2. Health and Wellness, 3. Workforce and Employment, and 4. Environment. Based on these criteria, the current ranking among ASEAN countries are: 1. Singapore, 2. Malaysia, 3. Thailand, 4. Indonesia, 5. Philippines, 6. Vietnam, 7. Laos and 8. Cambodia. There is no data concerning Brunei and Myanmar. This ranking does not bode well for our country because we are the lowest among the five original member-nations. This means that we are just a little better than the rest and our current position may even be grabbed by Vietnam and the rest.

The global ranking of the ASEAN countries are the following: Singapore (3rd in the whole world); Malaysia (22nd); Thailand (44th); Indonesia (53rd); Philippines (66th); Vietnam (70th); Laos (80th); and Cambodia (96th). The Top 3 in the whole world are: 1. Switzerland; 2. Finland, and 3. Singapore. In Workforce and Employment, the global scores are: Singapore (number 2), Malaysia (18), Thailand (27), Indonesia (32), Philippines (38), Cambodia (42), Vietnam (57), and Laos (59). The fact that Thailand, despite its highly volatile and even turbulent social and political conflicts, has beaten us is, by itself, quite alarming. Indonesia has also beaten us despite its many internal problems. It seems that we can no longer catch up with Singapore and Malaysia.

On the criteria of a country's capacity to attract talent, the Philippines' ranking is only 69th in the whole world, while the rest have better scores, like: Singapore (2nd), Malaysia (18th), Indonesia (22nd), Thailand (26th), Cambodia (42nd), and Vietnam (55th). Imagine, Cambodia has beaten us. On a country's capacity to retain talent, we are only 61st globally, compared to Singapore (7th), Malaysia (18th), Thailand (25th), Laos (31st), Indonesia (35th), Cambodia (45th) and Vietnam (80th). We are beaten by Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. On the criteria of enabling environment, the Philippines is among the bottom three, with the following global ranking for ASEAN: Singapore (5), Malaysia (22), Thailand (48), Indonesia (58), Vietnam (73), Philippines (78); Laos (80) and Cambodia (93). This means that the Philippines does not have an enabling environment for business and for human capital.

Given all these competitive standing, we are thus quite alarmed with the future integration. We only have eleven months and there is no integrated, purposive and strategic initiative by our government to prepare our country for such a tremendous challenge. By all indications, we will be most likely sent as meek lambs to a den of lions that shall devour us mercilessly. For albeit we are talking of integration, we cannot evade an Intra-ASEAN competition among the human capital in the ten-member states. Unlike, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which commenced preparing as early as 1987, we find ourselves unprepared, and unaware of the far-reaching implications of our unpreparedness until now. What is happening to us? Pastilan gayod.


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