Iloilo City has been recognized as a training center in Western Visayas because of the presence of numerous educational institutions but it should provide employment opportunities to accommodate the huge pool of qualified human resources.

This was the assessment of Dr. Federico Macaranas, executive director of the National Security Training Center and Asian Institute of Management Policy Center.

“Iloilo is a university town because of its excellent universities. You attract people from around the region. They trained, though, after they graduate they don’t find jobs here. The natural tendency is for graduates to go to other cities or around the world,” Macaranas explained.

He stressed the city’s quality of human resources is by far among the best in the country. Iloilo City produces close to 20,000 graduates a year.

The National Competitiveness Council assessed the city as having an excellent quality of employees or workers but it ranked low in terms of skills enhancement programs and available manpower.

Thus, the policy expert suggested that the city should expand employment opportunities and address concerns on job mismatch to prevent its quality graduates from leaving and working in other cities or abroad.

“To ensure that they stay here after graduation, job opportunities should be made available to them such as developing industries like retirement and other service oriented industries,” Macaranas said.

“This might be a different kind of project or programs that the local government unit and the private sector should do. In terms of skills matching, the solution would be to conduct dialogues between existing industries and academe on job prospects,” he added.

Macaranas was a resource speaker during a forum for stakeholders to analyze and learn from the results of 2007 Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Program (PCCRP), wherein Iloilo City slipped to 8th, thus excluded from the Top 7 best performing mid-sized cities. The city ranked 4th in the 2005 survey.

This modified story first appeared in The Guardian January 15, 2009