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The Philippines is an excellent source of professionals (such as nurses, computer programmers, engineers, and teachers) and skilled manpower (like physical therapists, musicians and entertainers, and construction workers) because the population is highly literate (about 94% literacy rate) and the medium of instruction at the tertiary level is principally English. Filipinos are commonly tri-lingual and English is understood and spoken throughout the country’s 7,100 islands. This is a large part of the reason why many American multinationals locate backroom operations in the country. (Some examples of these are America Online, Citibank, Federal Express, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Caltex, Fluor Daniels, Bechtel, and Barnes & Noble.) Of the 50,545 schools in operation throughout the country, there are 1,181 colleges and universities that offer graduate and post-graduate degrees and 1,276 schools that offer vocational and technical training. During a given year, there are some 2.5 million students enrolled at the tertiary (college) level. Of these, over 300,000 are enrolled in medical and health-related courses and over 400,000 are taking engineering and computer science courses. As a former colony of both the USA and Spain, the Philippine educational system is decidedly Western and is patterned after that of the American system.

Manpower is a major Philippine export and Filipinos already constitute the largest group of migrant workers in many parts of the world. They are found in these places working as nurses, doctors, engineers, computer programmers, teachers, physical therapists, merchant seamen, musicians, entertainers, construction workers, factory workers, machinists, electricians, and domestic helpers. To provide an idea of the scale of this activity in the country, an average of about 843,000 Filipino workers were deployed overseas every year of the last 5 years. (Recruiting Filipinos for overseas employment is a regulated activity under the supervision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.)

Enrollment in specific courses in the Philippines is often driven primarily by overseas demand (rather than domestic need) for particular skills.

  • Nurses
  • Nursing schools in the Philippines currently are capable of graduating about 41,000 new nurses a year. These nurses are graduates of a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) course that, like the American nursing curriculum, is generalist in nature. After graduation, Filipino nurses tend to divide into two main groups: those who do general bedside nursing, and those who focus and train in specialized areas like open-heart surgery, kidney transplants, trauma, pediatric care, and psychiatric care.

    With new nurses entering the workforce every year, the local supply of nurses exceeds the local demand so many Filipino nurses travel abroad to work. 13,536 Filipino nurses were deployed last year to jobs overseas - principally to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. This statistic does not yet include nurses who travel to foreign countries, such as the USA or Canada, under an immigrant’s visa.

  • Teachers
  • An extensive public school system - a legacy of the American occupation of the Philippines - provides free elementary and secondary education to all citizens. Tertiary education - to those who qualify - in public colleges and state universities is also heavily subsidized.

    Currently, there are around 350,800 elementary school teachers and around 114,800 secondary school teachers in the public (government) school system. In the private schools, it is estimated that there are some 28,500 elementary school teachers and some 45,800 secondary school teachers. Approximately 49,000 new teachers - graduates of a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) degree course - enter the workforce every year.

  • I.T. Professionals
  • Information Technology professionals - computer programmers, systems analysts, web designers, network administrators, systems engineers, hardware designers, etc. - typically are drawn from graduates of computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, and other technology-oriented courses. Enrollment in specific engineering and computer science courses is currently estimated at over 590,000. The number of graduates is estimated at about 63,000 each year. Filipino programmers and systems engineers are prime targets of overseas recruiting firms because of their native creativity and high level of technical skill, their willingness to work long hours, and their English language ability.