College graduation—the light at the end of the tunnel. It marks the end of studying lessons, beating deadlines, making assignments, and doing things independently, basically getting ready for what they call the “real” world. But is it really the “light” at the end or yet another door leading towards a longer and darker tunnel ahead?
In today’s time, the graduates are faced anew with the uncertainty of getting a fine job which means, getting the “right” job or being away from underemployment. Through the years, things have changed that getting a “fine job” simply means making a lot of money though ending up underemployed. And the common definition of “success” is finding oneself working abroad.
It had been apparent that the common thing that occupies the mind set of Filipinos nowadays is to work abroad. The reasons might be to find ‘growth’, whatever that means.
Growth in income. Probably this will top the list. According to the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) 2005 Press Release, there was a total of 55, 137 Filipinos who left the country in 2003. This has increased to 64, 824 in 2004. In December 2004, Janet Ramos of Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO) said that around 10 million of the total population in the Philippines is now based overseas. That is quite a number. If you’ll ask them why they decided to leave their homeland, most if not all would say they are looking for greener pastures.
Well, why not, when you can earn a minimum rate in the U.S.A. of $7.00 per hour. So, what one earns in the Philippines might just be a third of what others get abroad.
Because the salary rates are indeed attractive abroad, especially in the U.S., more and more Filipinos wouldn’t want to be left out. What happens to our country then? Well, there will always be two sides of the coin. Notice that in the recent times, the dollar exchange rate is gradually descending itself. This is attributable to the remittances from OFWs. Our country earns dollars from the earnings of these people. With that, to put it simply, we can continue to “buy” necessities from other countries.
However, there is a trade-off. One might be the inflation of prices. Let’s put it this way. A seller who knows that his neighbor is earning dollars tends to increase the prices of his commodities thinking that they can afford them because after all, they are earning dolyares. Then, there would be a stronger demand for high wage rates. Nurses, for instance would demand for a higher minimum wage rate than in the past so that they would rather choose to stay and work in the Philippines. People will likely be asking for an equally attractive rate if the country wants them here. With our current situation, the government is not likely able to yield to this sort of request.
Not only are we going to look on those, the Philippines is basically going to loose manpower. There will be a “brain drain.” The skilled and the intelligent would like to earn an income that will try to suffice their skill. So, some of them will prefer much to look for greener pastures outside the country. Take our doctors for example. These people who went through six years in college to earn license, wanted to step lower and be nurses to go abroad. So, probably in the next years, what will remain of us will be quack doctors.
Anyway, let’s take a look on another aspect of growth. A certain employee who just found joy and fulfillment in working in the Philippines was asked by his aunt after inquiring about his work: “what if you want to grow?” That leads to another query, what growth did the aunt mean? For instance, the Filipino nurses who went abroad. Not all of them were really nurses, some of them ended up caregivers. Some teachers who flew to other countries worked as domestic helpers. Other employees here with noble positions went abroad to work as nannies!? Where is growth then?
Only a few people know how to see growth as intrinsic and pure as being willing to go through tough times. Only a few people didn’t still give up the thought that one day Philippines is nearing first-world. Will there be growth for the Philippines then?
Browsing through the insides of Philippines, here is a result from the Labor Force Survey (LFS): last year, an estimated nine out of ten persons were employed. The employment rate registered at 93.7 percent compared to last year’s 92.6 percent. However, according to Estrella Domingo, the assistant secretary general of National Statistical Coordination Board (NCSB), what constituted the largest occupation group were those classified as laborers and unskilled workers, followed by farmers, forestry workers and fishermen. There were generally less executives, supervisors, shop and market sales owners, managers, government officials, and others. This has been the case since 2004. The current labor market mirrors our present economic state and a stagnant labor force. Development in terms of technology and economy are slow-paced. The global market is in need of manpower who are adept, well-versed and active in keeping up with recent developments in technology since high-technology type of jobs are emerging, and quickly at that.
The timely question there will be to ask is: where to now? Are there enough “fine jobs” in the country? There will always be choices. Is it better to go abroad or stay in our fatherland? Or work hard in the country, imbibe the daring qualities of a Filipino and later, face the globe as a true-blue Filipino.