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Brain drain more than doubled in last 12 years

The brain drain has become a bigger problem in the last 12 years, as the yearly exodus of people trained in science and technology (S&T) grew by about two and a half times from 1998 to 2009.

According to a Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) report, the number of S&T workers who opted for overseas jobs rose from 9,877 in 1998 to 24,502 in 2009.

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The numbers refer only to new hires or those leaving the country for jobs for the first time.

The BLES cited data from a study titled “International Migration of Science and Technology Manpower-OFWs,” which the Department of Science and Technology’s Science Education Institute (SEI-DOST) published in 2011.

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S&T deployment

Results showed that during the 12-year period, S&T deployment grew by an average of 11 percent yearly, peaking at a 59-percent increase in 2001 when 17,756 professionals left, compared with 11,186 the previous year.

Based on the SEI-DOST study, S&T manpower includes physicists, chemists, mathematicians, statisticians, computing professionals, engineers, life science professionals, health professionals (except nurses), and nurses and midwives.

The study found that nurses and midwives represented the biggest group with an average of 9,348 deployed yearly, or 60 percent of the total S&T average of 15,555.

Engineers comprised the second-biggest group, averaging 4,117 yearly, or 26 percent of the total outflow of S&T manpower. Other health professionals including medical doctors accounted for the third-largest group with an average of 1,426 yearly, or 9.2 percent of the lot.

“On the average, women accounted for about 60 percent of the annual [S&T] deployment,” the BLES report said. “The proportion of women has been rising over time—50.3 percent in 1998 to 57.8 percent in 2009.”

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Top 10 destinations

The top 10 destinations for these professionals were Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, United States, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Qatar and Taiwan.

Although the S&T deployment represents only a fraction of the annual outflow of temporary OFWs or new hires—an average of 5.6 percent share (in the yearly total)—the BLES report indicated that the proportion has risen steadily from 4.5 percent in 1998 to 7.4 percent in 2009.

During that period, the total number of newly hired overseas Filipino workers increased at an average of 13.5 percent yearly from 219,724 in 1998 to 331,752 in 2009.

“This study attempts to do an accounting of temporary migration of S&T (workers) in the Philippines as the basis for human resource development policies, particularly (for) S&T workers,” the BLES said.

The agency explained that the study was a follow-up to an earlier SEI-DOST report titled “Emigration of Science and Technology Education Filipinos” which dealt with S&T professionals who had left the country for good.

Five priority areas

When the national budget for 2012 was pending in Congress last year and Malacañang was pushing for a 10-percent increase in allocations for state universities and colleges (SUCS), Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the Executive supports the development of SUCs toward five priority areas that are expected to drive economic growth and employment.

These areas include agriculture and fisheries, tourism, general infrastructure, semiconductor and electronics, and business process outsourcing.

“President Aquino has directed the Commission on Higher Education to work together with SUCs as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment, and with industry to align their curricula to these priority areas,” Abad said.

“There is an immense opportunity in these areas but they are lacking in qualified manpower,” he added.

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TAGS: BLES, Brain drain, Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Filipino workers, SUCs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
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