Last month’s college enrollment produced the usual number of students taking courses perceived to be in demand like information technology (IT), according to an Inquirer report.
While IT job openings top the Cebu market if we go by the pronouncement of Joel Yu, chief of the Cebu Investments Promotions Center (CIPC), that doesn’t mean we should abandon or neglect the other courses that are just as in demand, if not critical for the province and the country.
Based on that same Inquirer report, we cite as an example natural sciences which saw a slight improvement in terms of the number of enrollees at 25,500 this year compared to 22,900 last year.
Graduates of natural sciences can end up working as geologists in the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) which needs personnel to evaluate ground stability for development projects like housing sites and even hotels and commercial buildings.
Is it any coincidence that Cebu is also experiencing a construction boom in recent years? As usual there is a dearth of students enrolled in math courses, a much-feared subject but critical for science and technology and even medical fields.
Quite disturbing is the decline in the enrollment numbers for agriculture and fisheries, forestry and veterinary medicines which are critical to produce graduates that can ensure the country’s food security.
While there’s positive news that the country can now export corn abroad and may achieve self-sufficiency in rice production next year, there’s no guarantee that it would sustain its capability in the years to come.
Though Cebu isn’t exactly the granary of Central Visayas, its officials always aim to promote self-sufficiency in rice production to cover consumer demand. Lacking qualified personnel to ensure that won’t bode well for the region’s economy.
We cannot blame the parents and even the students themselves for enrolling in IT and other “over-subscribed” courses like teacher education, hotel and restaurant management, business administration and maritime studies.
High-paying employment is a priority but as stated, the under-subscribed courses don’t lack for job openings.
Commission on Higher Education (Ched) secretary Patricia Licuanan said it best: “With science and technology courses seriously under-subscribed, the human resources needed for research and development will not be available. This will have a negative impact on national development and global competitiveness.”
To address this, we could only agree with Licuanan’s proposal that universities take the lead role in promoting these critical courses with scholarships and other incentives.
If they and the education agencies do their part, it may not be long before we can produce innovators in the league of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg who can transform their output into commercially successful and eventually beneficial products and services.
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