BY JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO
MANILA—THEY are the armies of salvation; the nearly million entrants to the country’s labor force, which an economist said ensures the steady supply of skills for the economy.
“We simply have too much labor,” Doctor of Philosophy holder Alvin Ang told the OFW Journalism Consortium (OFWJC) ®.
Ang last month presented his research in public that affirms the continuing export of labor doesn’t necessarily contribute to the phenomenon called “brain drain.”Advocates against the government’s structured processing of workers for foreign economies have warned the Philippines may find it difficult to reach economic progress because its highly-skilled people –doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers– are moving out.The University of Santo Tomas professor, however, even doubts the country will experience an economic slowdown due to this outflow.
Ang believes the Philippines “has adjusted to the workers’ overseas migration by replenishing them.”
“The government seems lucky,” Ang explains, “because abundant labor supply has given it time to ease fears of a permanent brain drain.”
He said that even if Filipino doctors and nurses leave, “there are many more left behind here.”“Not all Filipinos want to migrate anyway,” Ang said.He uses himself as an example: “If the Philippines’s brain drain problem were permanent, I myself would have not been here right now.”
Ang is going against past survey, especially by the Social Weather Stations, that points to the increasing number of Filipinos wanting to go abroad for work.Health industry leaders have warned in the past of the exodus of doctors and nurses, especially from government hospitals, seeking the high pay accorded to their colleagues in another country.
The local airline industry also warned of such exodus, especially of mechanics and engineers poached by headhunters of foreign airlines.
Another economist, Edita Tan of the University of the Philippines, said in a 2006 paper that even the rising numbers of Filipinos migrating for overseas work and permanent settlement “has not tightened the country’s [domestic] labor market.”
“(The Philippine) labor force increases faster than domestic and foreign labor employment,” Tan wrote in her article titled “Labor Migration and the Philippine Labor Market” for the International Migration Review.
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