WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 16, 2015) — The Philippines has the world’s most sophisticated labor-exporting model, one that dates back decades. During 2014 alone, the country deployed more than 1.8 million temporary workers overseas.
While Filipino migrant workers contribute significantly to the national economy, sending home more than $27 billion in remittances last year, this reliance on exporting labor raises an important question: Has the nation’s focus on preparing workers to leave compromised human capital development at home?
A new Issue in Brief from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Shortage Amid Surplus: Emigration and Human Capital Development in the Philippines, reviews the impacts of the Philippines’ successful labor export policy on skills development and human capital growth within the country.
A focus on sending workers overseas may result not only in the physical loss of talent—popularly known as brain drain—but also in mismatches between jobs and skills, as educational and training institutions align themselves with the needs of the international labor market rather than of local ones. Even as the Philippines sends a robust supply of workers abroad, it suffers labor shortages in key industries, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), medicine, and aviation.
On the other hand, there is broad agreement that remittances have improved access to education and reduced child labor in families that receive these funds. The effects may be even broader: the existence of opportunities overseas can inspire a greater number of people to gain additional skills and qualifications than the number who will eventually leave.
This issue in brief is the fifteenth in a series by MPI and IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The series offers succinct insights on migration issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region today. We invite you to read earlier briefs in the series here: www.migrationpolicy.org/
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels. For more on MPI, please visitwww.migrationpolicy.org.