Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and
NEDA Director-General

“Productivity and Innovation: Empowering Workers, Sustaining Enterprises”
16 October 2014, 8:00 AM
Heritage Hotel, Pasay City, Philippines


Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Allow me first to thank the National Productivity and Wages Commission for inviting me to speak in this event.  A convention such as this is a good avenue for labor organizations and employers’ groups to discuss ways by which we can improve the performance of our workforce. This in turn, can bring about growth in our enterprises and provide a sustainable basis for raising workers’ incomes.

As we celebrate Productivity Month, it is fitting to look first at the gains that our country has achieved and then identify the measures to sustain them, including human resource development programs that would further this development.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report showed that the country has improved its ranking by seven notches from 59th out of 148 in 2013 to 52nd out of 140 in 2014.  Positive results are also seen in key drivers such as technological readiness, innovation, and business sophistication.  The challenge for us now is to sustain this progress and ensure that the growth is inclusive.

To realize this, let us keep in mind that our country’s ability to achieve inclusive growth relies heavily on the performance of the productive sectors of the economy, namely the agriculture, industry and services sectors. Rapid and sustained growth of these sectors will be able to provide more productive and higher paying jobs for the unemployed and underemployed.

To ensure the growth of these sectors, it is necessary to raise the country’s productivity and innovative capacity, thus increasing competitiveness. A productive and innovative industry and services sector implies the creation of a wide range of products and services.  This diversity means additional markets and new production processes that will facilitate better linkage with the primary sectors such as the agriculture and fisheries.

In order to spur productivity and innovation, the government encourages private investments in research and development, the full utilization of available technology, and the development of climate-smart or clean technologies.  Local research and development capabilities will also be built for transformative, cutting-edge and sustainable technologies for information and communication, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and new materials, among others.

For micro, small, and medium enterprises which comprise 99.6 percent of the total registered businesses and comprise about 61 percent of the country’s total employment,   government support in product development will be in the form of establishing Technology Business Incubation centers, shared service facilities that provide testing laboratories to ensure product safety and quality standards, and agro-industrial hubs and central storage.  The Small Enterprise Technological Upgrading Program will also be expanded to assist SMEs in adopting technological innovations to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

Meanwhile, agriculture-based sectors such as coconut, coffee, furniture, garments, fisheries and forest-based products, are being developed to further generate employment and reduce poverty in rural areas.  Government support will also be provided to small-holder farmers and agricultural cooperatives in terms of product development. Moreover, their integration with big enterprises for the purpose of marketing and financing will also be supported.  Development and rehabilitation of irrigation systems are likewise being pursued to increase crop productivity and enable farmers to have greater control over their production patterns.  In addition, farm-to-market roads are now being constructed or rehabilitated to strategically connect rural and agricultural areas with market towns and destinations.

The government also acknowledges the valuable role of human resources in the growth and competitiveness of our productive sectors.  As such, high-quality and market-responsive education and training are needed to avoid skills gaps, ensure that workers are able to support business activity, and develop innovative capacity.  To ensure that skills are relevant to the needs of the industry, firms will be encouraged to provide inputs in the design of TVET and other relevant programs of higher education institutions.

The Department of Education’s K to 12 Program, for example, was designed to prepare our students for tertiary education, employment, and entrepreneurship.  The Senior High School Program offers a technical-vocational track where upon completion, the students are provided an opportunity to take the competency-based assessments of TESDA and obtain a Certificate of Competency or a National Certificate Level I or II.

The Commission on Higher Education and TESDA have also identified priority courses that will address the labor needs in employment-generating sectors such as tourism, BPO, mining, agri-business, logistics, shipbuilding, housing, electronics, infrastructure, and other high potential industries.  Colleges and universities will be encouraged to participate in technology parks and business incubator facilities, and offer entrepreneurship training to motivate students to bring their research from the academe to the firms.  Furthermore, TESDA will continuously provide training programs that will produce highly skilled workers. This will be done by encouraging LGUs and industries to participate in the delivery of TVET and by expanding enterprise-based training.

Agricultural workers will be trained on new technologies and innovations on production, farming system, and fishery practices, as well as agribusiness development and value-chain management to enable them to diversify their income sources and link with industry and services.

Rest assured that the competency of Filipino workers and professionals will be strengthened — not only in preparation for the regional and global integration such as the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, but more importantly, to enable them to seize development opportunities that will lift their living standards. This will be done by adopting the Philippines Qualifications Framework, developing competitiveness roadmaps for different professions, implementing outcome-based education, and conducting continuing professional development.

The government continously monitors labor productivity growth of the industry and services sectors to determine the effectiveness of government strategies in improving labor quality and competencies. Likewise, the innovation index and the country’s expenditure on intellectual property products are also being monitored to determine the country’s innovative capacity.

We acknowledge that there is still much to be done but I am certain that the plans can be executed well if both the public and private sectors work together.  With this, I encourage all of you to create a working environment that cultivates creativity, supports research and development, and promotes lifelong learning.  Let us also strengthen linkages among educational institutions, labor organizations, and trade agencies to ensure supply of competent workers.  As we work together, let this thought rise in our consciousness, that the development of our human capital will drive productivity and economic growth, and significantly contribute to the betterment of our people’s lives.

Thank you and good day.