(First of two parts)
In a recent event convened by the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP), stakeholders who are engaged in maritime education and training, and those who deploy Filipino seafarers for shipboard employment on ships plying international waters met to discuss their respective sub-sectoral roadmaps. The roadmaps reflect what the sub-sectors aim to achieve in their role as key players in Maritime Philippines. The welfare and re-integration sub-sector completed the maritime human capital sector
It is said that human capital is the most important asset of any country and to harness the strength of this endowment to contribute to a nation’s economic growth, the people must first be allowed to achieve their full human potentials. There are no surefire guidelines that prescribe how a country can unleash the power of its people to make them useful members of society. A lot depends on the socio-economic, political and cultural structures of the country. In the same light, its physical endowments, either as a coastal or landlocked country, could determine the abundance or scarcity of natural resources in its territory. These are factors that could dictate the kind of institutional and programmatic arrangements the country is able to adopt when developing human capital.
Health and education are two of the basic components of human capital per the United Nations Human Development Index. Health brings in the matter of longevity and life expectancy, i.e. the number of years newborn children would live if subjected to the mortality risks at the time of birth. Education, on the other hand, is equated with the level of literacy, i.e. a person’s ability to read and write.
In the Philippine perspective, health and education are considered priority and programs dealing with these gained even more prominence in the government’s commitment of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Reducing child mortality and introducing universal primary education are MDG targets which the country is still trying to approximate although there is good reason to believe the young population is being primed for them to realize their full human potential. There is for example access to free primary and secondary education available in all public schools, which is augmented by state universities and colleges offering tertiary education.
As important in human capital development is the standard of living that is measured in terms of one’s ability to access goods and services, and to be given the opportunity to make choices. This is closely linked to getting employed and to receive remuneration. Income is the means of gaining access to knowledge and better health information and facilities.
MMP identified as most logical when bringing together maritime stakeholders involved in developing maritime human capital those which have as their focus the following: maritime education and training, employment and welfare, and re-integration. Theirs is the task of capacitating the population who are bent on following maritime careers whether at sea or ashore. Seafaring has become an attractive profession for many Filipinos so are careers associated with maritime been as rewarding. To the maritime education and training sub-sector therefore rests the responsibility of qualifying the country’s maritime workforce in accordance with local and international requirements.
When one joins the workforce, he becomes even more attentive to health and welfare issues as these are what make him continue as a productive member of society. What is impressive is that the health and welfare of maritime human capital is mutually high in the employers’ and workers’ contractual obligations, over and above those which government stipulate, at least in the seafaring profession. It is a template that could be followed in the other maritime undertakings.
Maritime vocations thrive in the Philippines arising from a confluence of various factors, the most pronounced of which is the country’s being an archipelago. In the same manner, there is that innate desire for the Filipino to go to sea enthused by the mercantile aptitude acquired by his forefathers who traded with their Asian neighbors and the European explorers and traders. Seafaring, boatbuilding and other maritime related activities were recorded as early as the 16th century and which subsist to these days. Then and now, the country’s maritime human capital remains an important asset!