Lack of skilled workers impedes local firms' growth: survey

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2009 01:45 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2009 10:06 PM

Lack of skilled workers is the greatest roadblock to the expansion of Filipino businesses, according to a survey by the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) released by local member firm Punongbayan and Araullo (P&A).

The survey said 63 percent of privately held businesses (PHB) consider lack of manpower as the biggest constraint to expansion, higher than last year's 58 percent. Other factors which are said to hamper local industries are cost of finance (61 percent), and shortage of orders or reduced demand (60 percent).

Greg Navarro, managing partner and CEO of P&A, said the global financial crisis has various effects on local PHBs across markets, adding that no industry is immune from the ongoing slowdown.

"In spite of the increasing number of workers becoming unemployed, companies still continue to complain about lack of skilled manpower. This is true particularly in the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry, where the hiring rate is still around 4 percent to 6 percent of applicants, and in the construction industry, which is always in demand for highly-skilled welders and electro-mechanical workers," Navarro said in a statement released by P&A.

Intel Corp., the world's largest maker of microprocessors, was forced to close its factory in Cavite province last month due to a dramatic drop in demand for personal computers and mobile internet devices, affecting 1,800 workers. In the Cordillera region, nearly 2,000 miners have either lost their jobs or started working fewer hours after mining companies have opted to take on cost-cutting measures as a result of the global economic downturn.

To address the mismatch of demand and supply, Navarro stressed the need for a "serious collaboration" between industries, schools, and the government. He also called on business leaders to be more proactive by paying close attention to their operations, particularly on making more savings.

"They have to study the specific issues affecting their business and develop strategies that will allow them to respond quickly to transformative changes in the market place," he said.

"PHBs face a big challenge in staying competitive during these uncertain times. And part of overcoming that challenge is operating with the mindset that all this shall also come to pass. We just need to weather the storm and emerge wiser, faster and more innovative," he added.