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04 May 2015

With the relentless efforts to sow a culture of science in the Philippines, science and technology workers in the country has doubled in numbers in 20 years, with the nation reaping economic progress as its reward.

In its study “Human Resources in Science and Technology in the Philippines” (HRST), the Science Education Institute (SEI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) reported that the number of science workers grew by 99.17 percent from 1990 to 2010.

The study, which aimed to provide benchmark data on the estimates of S&T workforce that are crucial in crafting S&T human resources development policies and programs, said that estimated numbers of HRST gradually leaped from 362 thousand in 1990 to 593 thousand in 2000, and rose to 721 thousand in 2010.

SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo said the study described the past and recent status of HRST in the country with specific analysis on sex, age, marital status, occupation, and regional and overseas distribution.

“It would give us a better understanding of where we are which can serve as our guide in formulating and implementing science education programs and projects,” Biyo said.

The HRST study utilized secondary Census data from the National Statistical Office in which two sets of questionnaires were used: 1) the common household questionnaire that collected information from all households, and 2) the sample household questionnaire from a sample of 10 or 20 percent of all households, or 100 percent depending on the number of households in a municipality. The latter, which contained more variables including occupation, was primarily used in the study.

The 721 thousand HRST workers recorded in 2010 was culled out from the 1.8 million Filipinos categorized as “professionals” among the 31 million working population at that time. Occupations were further reclassified using the International Standard Classification of Occupations guided by the Canberra Manual—an international standard list of occupations recognized as S&T developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the International Labour Organization.

Biyo said the increase in the number of S&T workforce implies a positive effect on the country’s economy as “knowledge and technological creation through research and development leads to better performance of major S&T-based industries.”

“Our programs aimed at producing scientists and engineers have always been anchored to the belief that science, technology and innovation will lead us to development and by having a clear picture of our human resources in the field, we’ll know how much more we should work towards this endeavor,” said Biyo. 

Despite the increase, the Philippines still finds itself lagging behind many countries in terms of percentage of S&T workers to overall workforce population. In comparison with other countries’ professional workforce, the Philippines ranks fourth from the bottom with only 5.6 percent of the total workers.

The figure came from census data that OECD cited and compared with other data across countries. However, the OECD’s definition of HRST is broader than the one used in the study as it included all professionals as HRST. Biyo said there is no literature comparing the core S&T coverage across countries and hence accuracy was met even if HRST was defined broadly.

“In essence, we can still cite whether HRST is defined broadly or specifically using core S&T coverage because even if the figures across countries may vary, the ranking may almost be the same,” she added.

It is worth noting, however, that despite the overall increase in the number of S&T workers, not all S&T occupational groups had an upward trend. Specifically, there were significant decrease in key professions in the fields of mathematics, statistics, life science, physics, and chemistry while the most numbered occupations were nursing and midwifery, and engineering.

“We really need to focus on producing professionals from fields that have seen a decrease. We shall consider these findings in carrying out our scholarship, advocacy and innovation programs,” said Biyo.

Meanwhile, the HRST study also found that there were slightly more male than female S&T professionals as they accounted for more than half of the total number ranging from 50.6 percent to 54 percent in all three survey periods. Filipino S&T workers were also found to be relatively young with median age ranging from 32 to 34.  A great majority of S&T workers are also married.

In terms of the number of HRST working overseas, the study confirmed the findings of the previous migration study regarding the increase in outflow of S&T workers. The increase of S&T overseas Filipino workers ranged was from 40 thousand in 1990 to 113 thousand in 2010.

The study also revealed that most or 211 thousand (29.2 percent) of the country’s science professionals are concentrated in the national capital region, followed by Region IV-A and Region III with 127 thousand (17.7 percent) and 89 thousand (12.4 percent), respectively. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the least number of S&T workers with only around five thousand.

Biyo said copies of the study will be distributed to government and academic agencies and will be made available for downloading through the SEI website. (30)