By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
ENGINEERING courses are supposed to be promising careers but why are there few enrollees?
The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) in Panay have been working together to boost the unsubscribed courses particularly mechanical engineering which is actually in demand but has limited enrollees in colleges.
Dr. Rex Casiple, Ched education specialist, said their office is seeking a balance between education and labor market by advocating less popular courses but are actually in demand given the construction boom in the region.
Casiple cited the nursing course which is brimming with enrollees but has limited employment slots here and abroad.
Ched records show that agriculture and fisheries and engineering courses have the lowest number of enrollees even if such courses are a “must” for developing agricultural and industrial countries like the Philippines.
“There are so many opportunities in agriculture and fishery, which include even self-employment for enterprising graduates,” Casiple said.
He said they are promoting agricultural courses together with the state universities and colleges in the region because in the next 10 years, the country will be facing problems in food sufficiency compounded by lack of technical experts to work on emerging technologies in food production.
Engr. Lemie Leonida, PSME-Panay Chapter president, said the consistent growth in the industrial sector in the region particularly emergence of power plants and companies’ increasing demand for electricity need the expertise of mechanical engineers.
“Mechanical engineers are needed in planning, designs, analysis, estimates and operation of power plants, and in infrastructure development in general. They are needed as planners and analysts even in environmental situation, disaster risk reduction and management and in addressing climate change,” Leonida said.
Leonida cited Republic Act 8495 signed in 1998, which requires plants and buildings that consume at least 100-300 kilowatts to hire certified mechanical engineers for operation and maintenance.
PSME-Panay has been monitoring the implementation of the law and are conducting dialogues with managements of establishments that consume 300 kilowatts and above but do not have professional mechanical engineers.
Casiple, who is also a mechanical engineer, said majority of the companies and power plants, not only in the region but in the Philippines, are violating the law by hiring people who qualify as technicians but not engineers.
“This is probably one reason why many of our mechanical engineering graduates are unemployed or underemployed,” Casiple said.
This scenario is also seen as a reason why only a few students persevere in engineering courses which take five or six years of expert schooling and training.
The resurgence of technical-vocational courses along engineering-related skills also narrows opportunities for students who take full engineering courses.
“These tech-voch trained technicians can work along with certified professional mechanical engineers, but not to the point that they will be preferred even if establishments need the services of the latter. Building owners and power plant managements, including even hospitals and hotels, should realize that disasters often occur for lack of skilled and professional engineers handling their operations,” Leonida said.
The Ched and PSME officials said that it will be worthwhile for government legislators to look into RA 8495 so that violations can be properly addressed.
“This way, we can encourage students to enroll in engineering courses, and contribute much in national development as professionals,” Casiple said. (With reports from PIA)