Group: Nationalize industries to prevent ‘brain drain’

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


CAGAYAN DE ORO - The exodus of Filipino workers seeking opportunities elsewhere in the world will remain unabated if the government continues to ignore the promotion of nationalizing the industries.

Wildon Barros, regional coordinator of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Northern Mindanao, said that for the government to absorb its huge labor force, it has to nationalize the industries.

Nationalization of industries can be achieved when the government would establish its foothold on the country’s manufacturing sector.

It refers to the strengthening of foundation industries such as basic metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, machinery, precision instruments, capital good, and other ventures.

But what is happening today, Barros said, "The country is still driven by an import-dependent economy controlled mainly by multinational corporations."

He said the case of the National Steel Corporation (NSC) was a good example of how a nationalized industry could have flourished and contributed to the country’s growth and the working class to live comfortable lives.

It was just unfortunate, he added, that NSC did not sustain its operations and had to be privatized eventually.

Barros said the lack of the government’s effort to advance national industrialization will only prompt workers to seek greener pastures in other countries where the compensation is bigger than what is being offered here.

“The government has no capacity to employ its own workers, especially fresh graduates. Even the seasoned workers cannot find decent-paying job either. That is why millions of our countrymen are forced to migrate [to foreign land],” he said.

“Instead of benefiting from our labor force’s skills that should help the country develop and progress, other countries are enjoying the Filipino workers’ talent and abilities,” Barros added.

Human resource

When a country is slowly losing its human resource through “brain drain” or the depletion of its professional and skilled workers due to migration, it will not stand to gain from this, said Irene Floro, president and chief executive officer of Skills Master Institute (SMI), a trade school that provides training for technical and vocational education.
Floro said the human resource plays a vital role in investment programs of the government, and without it investors will think twice before putting up their businesses here.

Quoting a statement from the American Chamber of Commerce official during a recent business conference, Floro said one of their criteria for American companies to consider investing in a locality is the availability of human resource.

“So if our people are not well-trained, they are not skilled, then this will pose a big problem for the investors if ever they will put up investment in the country,” she said.

“The skills training of our workers is crucial and important for development to be able to fast track [economic movements], especially in infrastructure areas,” she added.

She said that if there are people who are skilled already and they are responsive to the demand of industries, “then we can very well say that we have the human resource that is ready and available anytime when it is needed.”

She said MSI is at the forefront because the school is looking at connecting all its training to employment.

“The employment outcome is very important to us because if there is no employment after our students are done with their training, then we will just be producing unemployed or underemployed graduates,” she said.

But Floro said there should be more investments to cater to the growing population of skilled workers.

“If we produced thousands of graduates and if the capacity of industries is limited, there is no one to absorb them for employment,” she said.

Decent wage

Nicolas Degollacion, 47, who’s had an experience working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for more than two years, said as long as locally-based companies don’t pay their employees adequate wage, then skilled workers like him will always opt to seek job in foreign countries.

While working in Saudi, Degollacion used to receive P18,000 a month as tile fitter, a salary that he could not earn here even if he worked just as hard.

Degollacion, who’s re-applying in Saudi as carpenter, decided to go back to work abroad when after going home in 2013 found it hard to land a high-paying job.

He did short-term jobs but this was not enough to feed his five children and his wife who’s suffering from bouts of nervous breakdown.

“I would rather be working in the Middle East and miss my family than be here [in the Philippines] and earn less,” he said.

This was echoed by Rogelio Bacus, 35, also a Filipino Overseas Worker (OFW) who used to work in Kuwait.

Bacus, from Barangay Carmen, said he worked as pipe fitter in the Middle Eastern country for five years, and now he wants to go back again.

“I am willing to fight homesickness and domestic problems as long as I earn a huge income,” Bacus said.

He received P15,000 a month. His employer increased it to P18,000 in his fourth year.

When his contract expired, he put up an eatery back home but this folded up after a few weeks, losing his capital and his savings in the process.

He tried to find other jobs as driver and collector but Bacus said these did not last.

He said if only there are job opportunities in the country that would give him a better life, he would not think of seeking greener pastures in a foreign land.

“The government should entice investors to open more businesses so workers will not have to go to other countries,” he said, adding that not all who work abroad are successful as there are those who are victimized by illegal recruitment. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 30, 2014.

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