Internet News, July 29, 2005
 (Special Report from DOST) For further inquiries, please contact: July 2005 DR. VIRGINIA G. NOVENARIO-ENRIQUEZ Tel. Nos. 837-2071 to 82 loc. 2102, 109

UP-DOST-Private Sector optimistic for the top exporting sector Roadmap conceived to prime electronics industry for global competition

The electronic industry remains as main export performer in the country for the last five years. Data in 2003 showed that the industry produced more than 346,000 jobs in direct employment. Furthermore, same data revealed that the industry gained US$24 million total investments.

Because of the prospects of the electronics industry in the local as well as global landscape, a technology foresight project has been undertaken for the country under the auspices of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology. The Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD), lead agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the development and utilization of our national capability in electronics and advanced S&T fields, mobilized its resources to support this project.

Undertaken by the Technology Management Center of the University of the Philippines (UP-TMC), the foresight project aimed to produce a roadmap towards the creation of technology champions in the electronics industry. Moreover, it intended to increase industry absorption of human resource and strengthen participation of local and multinational electronic enterprises in the country.

According to UP-TMC professor Glen Imbang, the roadmap highlights strategies aimed at helping create a niche for the semiconductor industry in the global market. "It focused on strengthening the human resource capabilities in electronics."

Various organizations such as Electronics Industries Association of the Philippines, Inc. (EIAPI), Semiconductor & Electronics Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI), Board of Investments (BOI), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and University of the Philippines (UP), Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) and De La Salle University (DLSU) as leading academic institutions in engineering education worked together to come up with strategies intended to push the electronics industry forward.

Strategies to pump-up electronics industry

Several strategies were identified to prime the industry's stability and competitiveness at the local and global front in the coming years.

One strategy is upgrading the undergraduate curriculum as well as fast-tracking the MS and PhD programs of universities. "There is the need to establish electronics curriculum in order to create a critical mass of graduates for the electronics and related industries," Imbang said.

This strategy recognizes the important role of highly-skilled personnel for transforming the industry from assembly and production of primary products to total manufacturing of goods for value-added.

At present, the Advanced Research and Competency Development Institute (ARCDI) has taken action to develop highly-skilled personnel for the industry. ARCDI is a non-stock, non-profit, self-sustaining foundation that provides local advanced training to electronics engineering professionals. It also renders laboratory services for semiconductor and electronics firms doing research and development projects.

Imbang said that with the increasing competition from China, Vietnam, and Thailand, it is essential that appropriate investments are made to further advance the knowledge and skills of our human resource pool and make them at par with foreign counterparts.

Another strategy is the creation of innovation centers for electronics. These centers would facilitate the provision of state-of-the art equipment for the conduct of scientific and electronics research.

Electronics Industry Scenario by 2015

With said strategies supported and adopted by the government and private sector, an optimistic scenario awaits the industry a decade from now, the report stated.

One of the sunny scenarios expected is being able to increase the number of Ph.D's, Master's and Bachelor's degree holders from world-class engineering education. This development will ensure continuous supply in the industry's labor requirements.

Based on a SEIPI report, the country is producing 100,000 engineering, IT and technical graduates annually at present.

Moreover, the improvement in higher education would help facilitate the transition to development from assembly and manufacturing in the electronics industry. Further, it is anticipated that graduates are tied up to training programs supported by entrepreneurs to satisfy industry's needs. Prototype test facilities are also being developed.

The report further revealed that a decade from now "the industry is well-equipped with the tools and knowledge of market identification." The country's SMEs continue to increase and are geared towards developing their niche technologies. Moreover, doors abroad are opened to admit Philippine-owned products.

These scenarios in the future are expected to be achieved with government's "promotional rather than regulatory policies." The report added that "government is expected to provide incentives in order to foster greater private sector involvement and participation in HRD development for electronics."

EIAPI Support

The private sector, through the Electronic Industries Association of the Philippines, Inc. (EIAPI), an organization engaged in original design manufacturing (ODM) of electronic products, has expressed support to the roadmap.

"We hope DOST, together with the Department of Trade and Industry, can help in orchestrating the activities and initiatives in this industry as highlighted in the report. The different players involved should also internalize the report. This you will see, if activities highlighted in the report are included in their budget," EIAPI President Victor Gruet said.

"EIAPI can help promote the growth of engineers in this area by continuing its role in the development of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and original design manufacturer (ODM) sub sector of the electronics industry, together with other players in the industry," he added. (By: Janet Rosalie Anne H. Polita)

Department of Science and Technology
Republic of the Philippines
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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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