By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
In partnership with the State University and Colleges (SUCs) in the country, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with 34 state universities and colleges to put up Special Economic Zone Institutes (SEZI) to match the skills and professional degree programs needed by industries.
Creating SEZI is one of the important programs under the stewardship of PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza. The SEZI aims to enhance partnership with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), LGUs, and industry associations to make Filipinos become multi-skilled, rich human capital, and become world-class workers.
“The SEZ Institutes will provide the professional, technical, and vocational trainings that match the manpower needs of foreign and domestic industries in order to attract more investors to the country,” explained Plaza.
These institutes will facilitate the training centers inside their campuses which will soon become a Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Technology (KIST) parks type of SEZ created by PEZA.
Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) National President Tirso Ronquillo explained “the SUC is supposed to serve as a research support component of the industries as industries venture into the landscape of “Industry 4.0” in the global market. However, in the Philippines, statistics shows that the budget allocated for research and development projects is less than one percent only, which is way behind the budget and expenditure of our fellow ASEAN entities.”
According to Ronquillo, the reason the SUCs have to be the host partner of the SEZ Institute of PEZA is to ensure “we will be able to enhance an industry-responsive research programs and training centers, which are in effect advantageous to industrializing the campus assets.”
“This is the first time PEZA recognized the role of the academe in developing a locally positioned investment promotion strategy after two and a half decades of its existence as a GOCC. It is also the first time the SUC adopted PEZA as its instrument of developing its assets into a world-class research university, and produce a global Filipino who’ll characterize a global Philippines,” said the PEZA chief.
Under the stewardship of Plaza, PEZA aims to promote everything local. The agency seeks to promote domestic enterprises to encourage them to maximize domestic production, manufacturing, and export capability of the Filipinos and, thereby, lessen the import-dependence of the country.
“PEZA’s goal is to provide jobs to all, stop sending manpower overseas, and avoid brain-drain,” she said.
All the participating schools have welcomed the idea and are on board with the plan. They have recognized the need to increase the local manpower and for all idle lands to be utilized and made productive.
Among the schools were representatives from the Cagayan State University, Isabela State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Batangas State University, Western Philippines University, Catanduanes State University, Western Mindanao State University, Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology, University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, Aklan State University, Guimaras State University, University of Antique, Central Philippines State University, Biliran Province State University, Samar State University, Davao Oriental State University, University of Southeastern Philippines, Surigao del Sur State University, University of Southern Mindanao, Mariano Marcos State University, Cebu Technological University, Palawan State University, President Ramon Magsaysay State University, Romblon State University, Cebu Normal University, Central Mindanao University, Surigao State College of Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Technological University of the Philippines, Jose Rizal Memorial State University, Quirino State University, Bicol University, Pampanga State Agricultural University, and Central Mindanao University. (BCM)