The Philippines’ next leader should work with the private sector in championing the interests of human capital, business leaders agreed during a virtual forum conducted by the country’s leading think tank.
“Our country’s next leaders should actively encourage collaboration between the government and the private sector, which has proven itself a trusted and capable partner for development, even during these hard times,” said Professor Victor Andres Manhit, president of Stratbase ADR Institute which organized the virtual forum on Tuesday.
Ernest Bower IV, president, and CEO of Bower Group Asia said more ambition is needed from the next administration.
“It is time to ask, not ‘are we doing ok?’ but ‘what can we do if we work together as government, the private sector, and this country’s talented, hard-working people?,” he said.
The forum featured the launch of the Stratbase ADRi special paper entitled Issues for the Next Administration’s Development Agenda on Human Capital and Labor Markets authored by Dr. Vicente Paqueo, a non-resident fellow of Stratbase ADR Institute and a Distinguished Voting Fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
The paper is premised on the fact that high and sustained productivity growth is essential to modern economic growth and development and challenges the next administration to meet people’s demands for jobs that pay for them to live comfortably and provide workers employment/income security.
“The Philippines has been lagging behind its regional and aspirational peers in growing labor productivity, indicating substantial room for improvement. Compensation per worker tends to rise proportionately per capita or per worker, a measure of worker productivity. Over-judicious use of labor tools can be damaging to employment prospects of disadvantaged groups like the young, less educated, inexperienced and in general those with lower human capital,” Paqueo said.
“Rapid labor productivity growth should be included in the next administration’s agenda,” he added. “This strategic objective can be accomplished in the long run through better education and training.”
According to Paqueo, just 3 percent of training outputs in the Philippines are produced by enterprise-based training compared to about 15% or more among aspirational peers.
“But workers want access to affordable, good quality life-long learning centers to provide the competencies necessary to qualify for better alternative jobs,” Paqueo said.
“Workers in the Philippines typically do not have access to affordable, lifelong learning centers. For the modernization of the labor code to happen, the new administration must take measures to ensure that workers will get a fair share of the benefits of labor productivity.”
Paqueo believes that a win-win solution – a social contract – between employers and workers is possible, with the facilitation of the government.
“Such contracts should include a package of actionable measures that will raise the productivity and competencies of workers through education and training, facilitate business innovations, and undertake completion of public infrastructures.”
Paqueo goes as far as proposing to modernize the “outdated” Labor Code of the Philippines.
“If this is combined with good quality education that would provide productive skills to the lower levels of our workers’ population, that would almost certainly result in at least decreasing the poverty rate. In other words, it would be more inclusive to focus on policies that increase the skills of labor and at the same time the productivity of labor over time,” he said.
Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), emphasized the need to learn 21st century skills so that companies and employees remain relevant, adaptive, and thrive in the evolving technology-driven environment.
Management Association of the Philippines president, Alfredo Pascual, for his part stated that “digitalization helps implement core values of good governance such as transparency, effectiveness, accountability, and participation of citizens in the case of the public sector.”
Other speakers in the forum were George Barcelon, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), and Edgar Chua, Chairman of the Makati Business Club (MBC), and Sharon Dayoan, President and Co-Founder, Filipina CEO Circle (FCC) Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).