HeadlinesStatistically Speaking by Dr. Romulo A. Virola1


School graduation in the Philippines is generally timed in March and marks a happy occasion for Pinoy Families, especially college graduation. Parents are excited to see their son or daughter in toga, which for them is a symbol of a successful pursuit, that is college education. Pinoy parents are filled with joy and anxiety as they witness the graduation of their children. They sigh with relief as they free their children to go out to the world to seek their careers and future life.

The graduates feel equally happy and sad, having completed/passed their scholastic education, but faced with a new challenge to seek their position in the outside world; with some independence but more responsibility. Equipped with the values taught them by their parents and their college training, they will now venture to explore work opportunities to start their professional careers. For some, it is a time to repay their parents.

So, Pinoy graduates, where will you go? Are there enough right jobs in the country for you or do you have to seek your future in another country? Is working abroad a choice or a need? Where will you be most happy? Have you ever considered serving your country/countrymen first to imbibe the Pinoy culture and prepare yourself to face the global world as a Pinoy? Or will this be too late?

What do we know about our Pinoy graduates?

  1. School enrollment in tertiary education as reported by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has not been encouraging as it slowed down from 1999 to 2002, and then dropped gradually starting 2002 to 2003, with negative 0.8 percent growth in 2004-2005 for both public and private schools. Except for the big jump in 1998-1999, enrollment has been sliding down, thereafter. And, tertiary education enrollment even in public schools shows a decelerating trend, weakening to negative 1.2 percent growth in 2004-2005, despite the lower cost of public education. In the case of private schools, the decline started as early as 2002 (Chart 1 and Table 1).

  2. Although the trend in the number of graduates (Table 2, Chart 2) continues to post annual increases, except in 1997-1998 and 2003-2004, disturbing is the data on the ratio of graduates to enrollment for tertiary education, which stands at 16 to less than 18 percent from 1994 to 2005 (Table 3). The survival rates for public tertiary schools are higher compared to private tertiary schools. This means that since a big number of enrollees are not able to complete college, our chances for professional careers in the future are reduced. Why is this? Has the higher cost of college education dampened parents’ dreams to see their children graduate? I still remember that twenty or more years ago, parents would sell their properties just to be able to send their children to school. Is this a reflection of the state of economic condition of families that the children now have to work rather than finish college? Or is this the effect of the deterioration in the quality of our primary and secondary education, that ill prepares our students for college?

  3. The situation is different for vocational enrollment. With the introduction of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training  (TVET) Program in 2002-2003, data from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) show that enrollment in vocational courses jumped by 116.6 percent. This was, however, followed by a drop in enrollment in 2004-2005, but this rose significantly to 14.0 percent and 25.0 percent in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, respectively (Tables 4 and 4.1). Are the Pinoy youth opting for a vocational education instead of a college education? Is this good news or bad news?

  4. Likewise, survival in vocational training is greater with a 68.6 percent rate as the lowest and 91.9 percent as the highest from 2001 to 2005 (Table 4.1).  Should Pinoys then consider a vocational education as an alternative?

  5. Somehow, the structure of courses attended by the graduates has taken into account the changing job needs although since about 14 years ago, the top 6 courses have remained the same. Business administration remains as number 1, although enrollment has declined by on the average 4.4 percent annually from 2000-2005, coming from an annual average growth of 2.5 percent from 1994 to 2000. Medical and allied courses recovered its position as number 2 from 14 years ago as it stepped up enrollment by an average of 25.7 percent annually between 2000 and 2005, with the increased interest in Nursing. But information technology has moved to number 5, replacing maritime which used to be a popular course for Pinoys seeking to work abroad (Table 5).

CURRENT LABOR MARKET (Employment Opportunities)

  1. Pinoy graduates today are better off with more employment opportunities than their counterparts ten years ago. The labor market has opened up new job opportunities such as on information technology; hospital and school administration; money market traders; design and animation technology; call center services; back office services such as business process outsourcing, medical transcription services, accounting and auditing services, engineering services; medical and wellness centers. Some of these jobs do not require a college education.

  2. Looking at the 2006 October round of statistics on Employment by Major Occupation Group (Table 6), the structure has not changed much since 2004. The dominant occupation is still the unskilled labor workers, at 31.9 percent in 2006. This is followed by farmers, forestry workers and fishermen which make up 18.9 percent; executives, managers and supervisors including officials of government, 11.7 percent; service workers and shop and market sales workers, 9.6 percent; traders and related workers, 8.1 percent; and plant machine operators and assemblers at 7.6 percent. This presents a stagnant low quality employment force, with about 50 percent comprised of unskilled labor and farmers. It points to our present state of economic and technology development, which does not seem to address the emerging high technology type of work demanded by the global economy.

  3. To measure the capacity of labor to absorb the graduates, we related the number of tertiary graduates with new hires3 by major occupation from 2002 to 2006. From table 6, employment for laborers and unskilled workers, farmers, forestry workers and fishermen, and plant operators were first deducted. The assumption is that college graduates will apply for work only in the other occupation groups (Table 6A). Table 7 shows that the numbers of newly-hired employees was lower than the number of graduates for 2002, 2004 and 2006. 2003 and 2005 exhibited a larger number of hires versus graduates but this may be because of the lower hires in the previous year. The corresponding unemployment rate for the five years are also posted in Table 7.

  4. Grouping the industries by the three major industry groups show that employment was provided mostly by services followed by agriculture, fishery and forestry and then industry (Table 8 and Charts 4 and 5).

  5. With globalization, jobs abroad have been opened including the easing of processes on international movements of persons. The different modes of person movement are now defined in the United Nations Manual on Movement of Persons. The records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) on the number of deployed overseas Filipino Workers has been increasing from 1991 to 2006. The number of deployed workers for 2006 reached 1,062,567 workers classified into land-based at 788,070 and sea-based at 274,497. Relating number of deployment to the ratio of hires to graduates, the years when the ratio was below 100 (Table 7), an increase in deployment was observed. Most of these workers go to the Middle East, followed by Asia and then Europe.

For 2007, the major skills of these overseas workers are production and related worker, transport equipment operators and laborers. This is followed by the service workers, and professional, technical and related workers.


So, quo vadis Pinoy graduates? Discouraged? Don’t be! The Philippines or the world will have a place for you so long as you maintain a good work attitude and the diligence to do your work well. Wherever you will go or whichever career you will choose you will always be a Pinoy, intelligent and effective as a communicator, efficient as a follower, loving and caring as a friend, committed and responsible to its task assignment. I still believe in the Pinoy graduate because most still possess the good traits taught to them by their parents and grandparents. Carry this with you as you venture to look for your future. Do your best to always uphold the spirit of a Pinoy graduate for you are the hope of our motherland, the Philippines, as our great hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, said more than a century ago.

For future Pinoy graduates, to maintain your comparative advantage in terms of job opportunities, then it is imperative that you pursue a college education or alternatively a vocational course. The government should provide the necessary program to motivate the youth either to go to college or to a vocational school (like planning for the right degree and non-degree programs, providing student loans, bringing school closer to the local citizens) for our youth to pursue their education. Courses to be offered should be able to respond to the future work needs of the Philippines in particular and the world in general.

Meanwhile, Happy Women’s Month!


Reactions and views are welcome thru email to the author at ev.domingo@nscb.gov.ph


1 Secretary General of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) and Chairman of the Statistical Research and Training Center (SRTC). He holds a Ph. D. in Statistics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA and has taught mathematics and statistics at the University of the Philippines. He is also a past president of the Philippine Statistical Association.

2 This article was written by Estrella V. Domingo (ev.domingo@nscb.gov.ph), Asst. Secretary General of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). The author thanks Carmelita H. Destreza, Armyl G. Zaguirre, Diane Christine O. Lizarondo, Magnolia C. San Diego, Simonette A. Nisperos, Candido J. Astrologo, Jr. and Noel S. Nepomuceno for their assistance in writing the article.

3 New hires were estimated by taking the difference between employment for two consecutive years.


Posted 10 March 2008.


Table 1. Enrollment by Sector and Sex - Higher Education

Table 2. Graduates by Sector and Sex

Table 3. Ratio of Graduates vis-a-vis Enrollees (matched)1

*1st-yr college students
** 4th-yr college students, lag of 4-yrs (average) from time of enrollment
Source: Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Statistical Bulletin AY 2004-2005

1 Survival rates of ratio of graduates to enrollees are derived by matching the number of enrollees with the graduates. Graduates of one year arematched with enrollees 4 years ago from time of graduation.



Table 4. Middle-Level Skills Development
(in thousand persons)

Source: Technological Education and Shills Development Authority (TESDA), Quick Statistics 2007


Table 4.1 Comparison of Schools and TVET Programs
(in thousand persons)

*comparable years based on series
Source: Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Quick Statistics 2007
Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Statistical Bulletin AY 2004-2005

Table 5. Enrollment by Discipline Group (Priority Discipline)
(AY 1194-1995 to AY 2004 - 2005)

Source: Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Statistical Bulletin AY 2004-2005

Table 6. Employment by Major Occupation Group
in thousands

Source: National Statistics Office, 2006 October round, Labor Force Survey (LFS)


Table 6A. Employment by Major Occupation Group
in thousands




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