Human Capital of Maritime Philippines

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ATTY. BRENDA V. PIMENTEL

(Last of two parts)
The Philippine population of 15 years old and over was recorded at 68.311 million based on the Labor Force Survey conducted in October 2016. Of these, 43.361 million or more than 60 percent were in the labor force.

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There were of those in the labor force during the same period almost 41 million who were employed. Labor force refers to those who are 15 years old and over who contribute or seek to contribute to the production of goods and services as defined in the system of National Account production boundary.

Notwithstanding that the abovementioned figure does not include the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), it is important to note that Maritime Philippines has a huge population from which it could draw its maritime human capital. Seafaring remains an attractive career targets for many Filipinos and it continues to be with 406,531 seafarers deployed in 2015 and the significant number of maritime students. There are a number of maritime schools in the country, most of which offer only BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) programs. In this respect, we are convinced we have put up the necessary academic institutions to develop Filipino seafarers.

With its maritime endowments as an archipelago, it is unfortunate that the Philippines remains indifferent to developing the country’s human capital to prepare them for other available and equally rewarding maritime profession and career. There are not many schools that offer naval architecture and marine engineering (BSNaMarE) programs and for the few which do, the number of enrollees is insignificant compared to BSMT and BSMarE. In fact, there were maritime institutions that tried to offer BSNaMarE but had to close the program for lack of enrollees.

According to the Shipyards Association of the Philippines (SHAP), there were 46,000 workers engaged by the shipbuilding industry in 2015. A big chunk of those employed in shipyards are skilled workers, and they contribute to the production of domestic goods and services. And probably the reason for the small percentage of those at the professional level is the dearth of available naval architects. The Philippines has not developed its maritime human capital for this field of expertise.

Government maritime agencies that undertake maritime administration functions and port management and operations recruit and hire personnel with hardly any background in shipping. It is highly possible that those who work in these agencies did not know, prior to joining the agency, the configuration of ships or what should be required for a ship to be allowed to operate. One could say, there is no problem with that as their educational credentials will help them understand the concepts during their tenure. Experience gained during engagement will provide the necessary competence and expertise. This stretches the learning curve a bit too steep. And expertise with confidence will probably be achieved after 10 to 15 years after appointment in government.

Therefore, at any one time, part of the government maritime workforce will be involved in learning maritime, thus effectively reducing much needed manpower complement.

The hiring of “job order” personnel is resorted to by government to address lack of qualified personnel who have passed the required government examination. Again, this could be traced to inability to prepare the country’s human capital in that field of study where employment opportunities abound.

The problem is not simple. It needs careful consideration of the value added benefits that an archipelago like the Philippines can gain. But first there must be a conscious effort on both government, industry and all stakeholders to adopt a paradigm shift— that this country is not just a seafaring country. It is Maritime Philippines!

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