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Investor regard for workforce still high despite PISA survey

Foreign business chambers said they remain confident about attracting investment to the Philippines despite its poor performance in a global education survey.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking of 79 countries had the Philippines with the lowest mean score in reading comprehension and the second-lowest in science and math.

“I still believe strongly in the talent pool in the Philippines,” British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) Executive Director Chris Nelson said in a phone interview Thursday.

He said British investors are attracted to the Philippines’ English-language fluency and ability to learn.

“Filipino workers are adept — they are taking training from companies that come in. Even if there is a gap, that can be adjusted. The workforce is still an attraction to British investors and companies.”

Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines (JFC) Senior Adviser John Forbes said in a mobile phone message that the survey should not have an adverse effect on foreign investment in the Philippines.

“The economies with higher test scores in the survey are more developed and spend more on education. In fact, the Philippines spend less per student than all 78 other economies in the survey,” he said.

“By spending more on education to improve the quality of teaching, the score of Filipino 9th graders in this test in the future should improve.”

Mr. Nelson of BCCP sees the low educational ranking as an opportunity for the Philippines and the United Kingdom to pursue educational partnerships, suggesting that the UK should bring in satellite schools.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in the Philippines from educational institutions from the UK — universities who would like to see more Filipino students or to have local partnerships up and offering the program here.”

British investors in the Philippines, he said, are typically in the retail and construction industries. He said that the construction industry will always need project management and construction management skills.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), according to its president Nabil Francis, said in a mobile message that it recognizes human capital as one of the country’s most important assets.

“In an increasingly competitive global environment, the need for equipping the future talent with the adequate and necessary skills sought after by industries becomes even more crucial,” he said.

“The results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment examination serves as a wake up call for stakeholders to join hands and further improve the skills and capabilities of the country’s younger demographic.” — Jenina P. Ibañez