Philippines has the edge on global workers supply thanks to its young population, expert says
- Wealthy countries and a growing number of middle-income nations, which are traditionally the main sources of migrants, face declining populations
- The Philippines challenge is not an ageing population but the young who need to find jobs either domestically or internationally, a lead economist said
Unlike its wealthier neighbours such as Japan and South Korea, an ageing society is likely to be the least of the Philippines’ problems in the next decades, making it capable of supplying the world with needed manpower.
“The challenge of demography will not be on an ageing population but more on a young population that needs to find jobs either domestically or internationally,” Quy-Toan Do, a Washington-based lead economist in the World’s Bank’s Development Research Group, said in Manila.
“In the horizon we are comfortable making predictions that by 2050, the Philippines is still an expanding and a young population,” he said, noting that the number of children per woman in the Philippines is about 2.8, well above the 2.1 replacement rate.
In its World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees, and Societies, the multilateral agency said wealthy countries as well as a growing number of middle-income nations, which are traditionally the main sources of migrants, face declining populations. This will intensify the global competition for workers, it said.
Middle-income countries “are growing older before they become rich”, according to the report first released in April and discussed with Philippine government officials, recruiters and civil society groups on Monday. In contrast, the young people in countries whose populations are booming “are entering the workforce without the skills needed in the global labour market,” it said.
These trends make it necessary to guide policies based on how migrants’ skills match the needs of destination countries. There are about 184 million migrants worldwide, the World Bank said.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expects the country’s remittances, a key driver of consumer spending, to grow 3 per cent this year and the next, supported by steady demand for Filipino workers and labour shortage in host countries.
World Bank’s Do forecasts the Philippines’ remittances to keep growing as people migrate and have better jobs. He cautioned the Southeast Asian nation known for its English-proficient workers, however, about increasing competition from other countries such as India. “It’s good to be competitive; the main challenge is to remain so,” he said.