Ping exhorts youth to pick careers in agriculture


THE youth and student sector must seriously consider a future in the agriculture industry as a way of bolstering food security, Senator Panfilo Lacson said at the weekend, adding that  there are good careers in the farm sector.

Addressing business leaders at an economic forum featuring presidential aspirants over the weekend,  Lacson said he is urging the youth sector to “consider taking more courses related to agricultural development instead of focusing on liberal arts education.”

The senator cited the “apparent productivity gap between blue- and white-collar workers, especially among the members of our youth sector who are preparing to join the labor force.”

“It seems our youth has put their focus on liberal arts,” he noted, adding: “So, why don’t we just introduce a new concept wherein State University and Colleges (SUCs), especially those in agricultural areas of the country, focus on teaching courses pertaining to agriculture?”

His pitch on agriculture education comes after a recent warning by Agriculture Secretary  William Dar that, unless the education-jobs mismatch is addressed,  the Philippines could see its farm labor dwindling to critical levels. In the next 12 years.

A declared presidential aspirant in the upcoming national elections, Lacson noted that reforming the Philippine education system is definitely going to be part of his economic agenda, especially in terms of developing the growth mindset of Filipino children aged 15 years and older.

Recalling a recent international study, the senator aired serious concern over the assessment that only 31 percent of 15-year-old Filipinos hold a growth mindset; that means 69 percent of them have no plans of continuing their education.

“We should change that mindset. You know, that’s really dangerous,” Lacson laments, noting that “growth mindset stops at 15 years of age.” He reminded his audience there are unused appropriations under the expenditure program of the Department of Education that needs to be addressed.

Lacson, Partido Reporma chairman, clarified he found “nothing wrong if some children from the underprivileged sectors of society would prefer to stay and work in their farms,” but stressed that “this should not stop them from pursuing further education.”

The senator added he was hoping to “see Filipino farmers get the same level of respect as those who are working in the agricultural industries of mostly first-world countries, instead of having children being forced by their parents to go into the corporate world in pursuit of higher salaries.”

He added: “You know, unfortunately, it is only in the Philippines na ‘yung farmer mahirap (where the farmers are poor). You go to the United States, you go to Europe, the farmers are the richest in their communities.”

The senator recalled that according to a 2020 report by the World Bank, transforming the Philippine agriculture industry into a dynamic, high-growth sector is “essential for the country to speed up its pandemic recovery,” on top of its continuing poverty alleviation efforts.

Based on latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, growth in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors dropped by -0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2021. It is the third consecutive quarter of decline since its upward growth in the third quarter of 2020.

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