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  • Alexis Laura Feliciano

Prioritize training and development of skilled workers for an Industry 4.0-ready workforce

Updated: Nov 14, 2023


(L-R) AMDev Chief of Party Dr. Danilo Lachica; Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, AER Industrial Policy Team Lead at Action for Economic Reforms (AER); Dr. Gonzalo Serafica, CISTEM Executive Director; and Francisco Alcuaz, Jr., Makati Business Club Executive Director


19 September 2023 — Key industry leaders, government speakers and panelists of the first Advanced Manufacturing Stakeholder Forum tackled the myriad of opportunities for workforce development in the country during the panel discussions and presentations on September 19, 2023.


“The gap that we are trying to address here is education mismatch - not producing graduates with the right skills for the future of work,” said Lilibeth Aristorenas, Executive Director of the Unilab Foundation, Inc., explaining the target of the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance (AMDev). “Our goal is to have an improved education system through an industry and skills-based curriculum and training platform.”


The first Advanced Manufacturing Stakeholder Forum is an initiative of the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance (AMDev), a five-year program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Unilab Foundation, Inc. The forum was organized in partnership with the Makati Business Club.


The forum with the theme of ‘Advanced Manufacturing as a Major Driver of the Philippine Economy’ was geared to start and facilitate the discussion on the opportunities for workforce development initiatives in the Advanced Manufacturing sector by bringing together government, industry, and academia stakeholders to discuss and push for substantial change and progress toward the sector’s readiness for Industry 4.0.


The manufacturing sector has consistently contributed to the Philippine GDP. In the Annual Survey of Business and Industry published in 2023, the sector generated Php 5.06 trillion in annual total revenue.


However, several critical issues pose challenges to a country's growth trajectory for manufacturing. Companies are missing market opportunities brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. The Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 underscores the manufacturing sector's continued "low technological utilization" and pointed out that most companies are "still transitioning from Industry 2.0 to Industry 3.0." Furthermore, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that make up more than 99% of commercial establishments in the country – including manufacturing companies – have "at most, low technological readiness" for Industry 4.0.


“The Philippines has a number of advantages that make it an attractive destination for advanced manufacturing investment.” Thomas Leblanc, the outgoing Director of USAID Philippines Office of Education, said in his keynote. “However, to fully realize the potential of advanced manufacturing, the Philippines needs to invest in workforce development. This means providing workers with the skills and knowledge they need to operate advanced manufacturing technologies.”


(L-R) Yvette Malcioln, Deputy Office Director at USAID/Philippines; Lilibeth Aristorenas, Unilab Foundation Executive Director; Dr. Thomas LeBlanc, former Office of Education Director at USAID/Philippines; and Dr. Danilo Lachica, AMDev Chief of Party


The first panel discussed AMDev’s accomplishments for the first year including the results of the Philippine Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Survey conducted online from October 2022 to March 2023. The survey sought to generate a detailed snapshot of the current state of the Philippine advanced manufacturing sector, the findings of which will serve as a baseline to further program outputs such as the development of the skills framework for the Advanced Manufacturing Sector.


The first-panel discussion was joined by AMDev Program’s Chief-of-Party Dr. Danilo Lachica, Action for Economic Reforms Senior Fellow Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, and Center for Integrated STEM Education Executive Director Dr. Gonzalo Serafica.


“I would like to reiterate the importance of collaboration in advancing advanced manufacturing in the Philippines. No single organization or sector can do this alone. We need to work together to share knowledge, resources, and expertise.” Dr. Danilo Lachica, AMDev Chief of Party and the President of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) said.


AMDev is working in partnership with model manufacturing companies, higher education institutions, research institutions, specialized non-profit organizations, and government agencies.


The second panel focused on the importance of providing upskilling opportunities for the local work force and its impact to the Philippine economy. This was comprised of key figures in the government and the industry partners – DTI’s Usec for Competitiveness and Innovation Group Rafaelita Aldaba, TESDA’s Executive Director of Qualifications and Standards El Cid Castillo, Western Digital Philippines VP for Asia Chandra Anamirtham, and Fastech Synergy Philippines President Allan Timonera.


(L-R) Carlo Sagun, Program Director at Bayan Academy; Dr. Rafaelita Aldaba, DTI Undersecretary for competitiveness and innovation group; and Allan Timonera, President of Fastech


"Filipinos need the skills to fill these jobs -- and the fast and constantly evolving job requirements in advanced manufacturing industries. The Philippine economy needs to have these skills to compete for the investment that will create these and other jobs." MBC Executive Director Francisco “Coco” Alcuaz, Jr. said during his opening remarks. "We look at AMDev as a catalyst for a broader manufacturing sector and economy. The advanced manufacturers that AMDev helps will need goods and services that can also be produced here, creating more and more jobs. The Makati Business Club (MBC) serves as the secretariat of AMDev.

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