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09 May 2009

Demand for skilled workers still growing in Subic

Noticing that the local labor market continually leans toward specialization, officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have urged students in the Subic Bay area not to scorn technical and vocational trainings, but instead try out non-traditional courses that promise better employment opportunities in this free port.

“There is still a consistent demand for highly skilled workers in the Subic Bay Freeport,” said SBMA Labor Department chief Severo Pastor Jr.

He pointed out, however, that most of the companies that continue to expand or choose to invest lately despite the current recession require specific skills that cannot be acquired from traditional schooling.

”This is a clear indication of where the Subic Freeport is headed in terms of job creation and employment, so we must act accordingly,” Pastor said.

The SBMA official also revealed that the employment generation trend in Subic now appears to revolve around five major investment areas that have displayed growth amid the global slowdown. These are logistics, manufacturing (other than electronics), tourism, business process outsourcing (BPO), and other knowledge-based industries that made up most of the 30 new investment projects worth P1.5 billion that signed in during the first quarter of 2009..

“The top two biggest investments in the first quarter that are worth P975.2 million and P201 million, respectively, are maritime-related,” said Pastor, pointing out that one of the new investors, HYS-Yacht Phils. Ltd. Co., needs 100 workers for its yacht restoration operations.

“Now, is there a four-year course that teaches you yacht restoration?” he pointed out.

Pastor added that Subic’s booming maritime sector is constantly in need of skilled workers as the shipbuilding industry here is on full-scale production, and dry dock operations increased when shipping lines found Subic Bay an ideal place to lay up vessels.

Stressing that various maritime facilities are mushrooming in Subic, Pastor advised students and job-seekers, as well as parents and teachers, to closely monitor labor developments and thus prepare themselves by acquiring the needed skills.

“It is the task of the SBMA to always look ahead, and we advise everyone concerned to do the same,” added Pastor.

Meanwhile, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga, a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy and a commodore in the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, also cited the need for specialized courses aimed at producing marine engineers knowledgeable in naval architecture, design and construction.

Salonga said the SBMA is intent on further developing the Subic Bay Freeport as a full-blown maritime logistics and service hub, as mandated under President Arroyo’s 10-point development program.

“We’re undoubtedly getting there, so those who plan to seek employment in the Subic Freeport should make themselves more competitive,” he added.

Pastor said students who would try out technical and vocational courses will find adequate support from schools in the Subic Bay area that offer trainings in foreign language proficiency (English, Korean, Mandarin, Nihonggo), aeronautical engineering, airplane maintenance, metal works, call center operations, information and communications technology, cellphone repair, practical nursing, care-giving, massage therapy, housekeeping, cooking, bartending, and other service-oriented programs.

The development of most of these courses came as a result of the SBMA’s partnership with concerned government agencies and the academe, as well as the annual “Congress on Job-Skills Mismatch” that his department launched in 1995 to address gaps in the industry-workforce-academe linkage.

Salonga and Pastor also urged local investors to set up business enterprises in response to the emerging industries so that they could exploit the growing opportunities open to pioneering firms.

Among the areas to look into, they said, are the growing community of foreign retirees in this free port, and the BPO industry where the SBMA now steps up capability-building. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO:
Trainees learn welding skills that are much in demand in maritime industries at the Subic Bay Freeport.

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