Filipino engineers less trained than their Asian counterparts

Posted on November 07, 2011

FILIPINO ENGINEERS could soon be crowded out by their better-trained Southeast Asian counterparts without strong industry-academe partnership and tougher regulation on colleges as the region’s members open its doors to each other’s graduates by 2015, an official said on Thursday.

More engineering graduates are entering the labor force poorly trained for openings available to them in the job market. These ill-prepared graduates strain the ability of firms that need professionals to improve business operations or innovate.

But redesigning the curriculum is not an adequate solution to the skills-job mismatch, as other factors inside and outside schools play equally important roles in ensuring the competence of future engineers.

In fact, the engineering program had already been revised by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) together with professionals from the industry and the academe with the revision being launched only in 2008.

“I think the curriculum is adequate, and this shouldn’t be the main problem right now. The first batch of graduates of this revised curriculum won’t be produced until 2012,” May Rose C. Imperial, Institute of Electronics and Communications Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (IECEP) vice-president for education, said on the sidelines of the International Electronics Conference and Expo Philippines 2011 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.

“Implementation of this curriculum has been deficient in many schools outside of highly urbanized and metropolitan areas where there are hardly any industries to speak of and where facilities and teacher training are severely lacking,” she said.

The revamped curriculum, which features a six-unit on-the-job training (OJT) requirement, considers the practical or hands-on nature of engineering as an applied mathematics and science discipline.

A thriving industrial district is therefore key to ensuring students can fulfill this program.

“We have very few areas as developed as Metro Manila or Cebu, and most of our colleges are in these areas where there are hardly any industries to absorb these students for their OJT. They lose out on the real world learning and experience this type of program offers,” Ms. Imperial said.

Furthermore, colleges have underestimated the role of teachers and technology in properly implementing any curriculum. This oversight, however, might have been the result of the government’s lax regulation of the country’s educational standards.

“Another problem is that the government is giving permits left and right to schools to offer a bachelor’s degree in engineering, so this allowed the proliferation of schools that don’t have the dedication or resources to improve their teachers and facilities,” Ms. Imperial claimed. -- Eliza J. Diaz