Diamond in the Rough: Workers in the Philippines

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Talented Workers in the Philippines Persevere Despite Hard Times

Shanties litter the outskirts of Metro Manila.

The Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates in Asia – with a staggering 26.5% poverty incidence according to the NSCB’s (National Statistics Coordination Board) 2009 report. What’s more shocking is that majority of its population lives at less than one US dollar a day (75 cents to be exact). It is also one of the most over-populated countries, with a density of 312.78 people per sq. km. according to a study conducted by the World Bank. One would think that for such a poor country, it’s populace would suffer from inferior education and low literacy. But the Philippines goes well beyond expectations with an impressive 93.4% literacy rate, ranking as one of the best globally. It also boasts of an exceptionally high number of college graduates, having more than 500,000 graduates in 2012.

For Filipinos, education is the key to a good future and a successful career. They were raised into thinking that without proper education, they can’t go far in life. That’s why regardless of their current financial situation, Filipinos still strive to finish their studies. Most graduates also build their knowledge in English and the Western culture because going abroad to work has always been a goal for Filipinos. And for some who aren’t able to live the American dream, they stay in the country to work on BPOs.

BPOs are a God-send to Filipino workers.

Speaking of which, BPOs have had a recent demand for workers from the Philippines. It’s a mutually fulfilling relationship wherein foreign investors benefit from higher productivity that comes with their well educated Philippine workers who have superior English skills right out of the box. Also, their quick adjustment to American culture is highly welcomed by their employers. BPOs give rise to new job opportunities and help alleviate the country’s poverty ratings. As a matter of fact, unemployment in the Philippines has dropped slowly since 2010′s 7.3% to 2011′s 6.9%. With the great boon that these foreign companies are giving the country, the Philippine government has created laws to help increase the number of BPOs in the country even further. Tax breaks, and other tax incentives are already implemented which makes the Philippines a really attractive place for business.

The steady rise of foreign investors are mostly attributed to the amount of talent in the Philippines and of course the disproportionately low labor costs. Cheap labor doesn’t necessarily mean that workers in the Philippines are of lower quality. Regardless of the country’s low financial state, 60% of enrollees for higher education still go through private educational institutions. This is double the average percentage share of PHE (private higher education) enrollments globally. The standards set in private educational institutions in the Philippines is considered one of the best in the world. After all, their educational system was based from the systems used in Spain and the United States. Hiring people in the U.S. with the same amount of credentials would cost more than triple when compared to recruiting staff in the Philippines.

The University of Santo Tomas, built in 1611 is the oldest university in Asia.

The Filipino people shows the world what unwavering perseverance to achieve true potential is and that money is not the only ingredient in success. Barack Obama once said – “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”

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