Taking the Next Steps: Strengthening Ties Between Industry, Academe, and Government

(Mactan, Cebu) – Last January 23 – 24, 2014 around 100 leaders of industry, academe, and government came together for the 2014 Higher Education Summit at the Shangri – La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu. This was organized by Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) as part of its Higher Education and Productivity project (HEP), through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Philippines.

Two days of intense discussions between participants from industry, academe, and government led concrete action points, which will be pursued in the next few months and reviewed in the next Higher Education Summit in 2016.

Entitled “Taking The Next Steps”, this year’s Higher Education Summit intended to build on the huge successes of last year’s Summit by providing a platform for continuous dialogue among education stakeholders, developing a higher education agenda that will support Philippine competitiveness, and broker actual partnerships at the national and provincial levels. Present at the Summit were some of the biggest names in industry, academe, and government. This included PBEd Chairman, Mr. Ramon del Rosario, Jr., Ayala Corporation Chairman, Mr. Jaime Zobel de Ayala II, and Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) President, Mr. Edgardo Lacson among others. Participants from the side of academe included University of the Philippines (UP) President, Mr. Alfredo Pascual, Ateneo de Manila University President, Fr. Jett Villarin, De La Salle University President Br. Ricky Laguda, Unversity of Sto. Tomas President, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy Association of Local Colleges and Universities (ALCU) President, Mr. Tomas Lopez, COCOPEA President Dr. Patricia Lagunda, and Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) President Dr. Ricardo Rotoras. Meanwhile, present on the side of government were Commission on Higher Education Chairperson (CHED), Hon. Patricia Licuanan, CHED Commissioner, Hon. Cynthia Bautista. USAID/Philippines Deputy Director Mr. Reed Aeschliman was also present at the Summit.

The first day kicked off with the opening remarks from USAID/Philippines Chief of the Office of Education, Mr. Robert Burch and CHED Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Bautista. This was followed by talks from Dr. David Hall of the USAID STRIDE Project, who talked about the experience of other countries with the skills gap and mismatch. He was followed by Mr. Norman LaRocque from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), who gave a talk on the current trends and reforms in higher education. These tone-setting sessions were a buildup to the main part of the program, which were the breakout group discussions. Following through on the goals of last year’s Summit, this year the goal was to create specific and actionable steps in the following areas: (1) Collaborating on Human Resource Planning & Development; (2) Making On the Job Training & and Internship Programs more Responsive; (3) Industry – Academe Collaborations on Research and Innovations; and (4) Promoting Technical and Vocational Education & Careers. 

On the Second day, Schneider Electric’s Country President Mr. Philippe Reveilhac got things started with a brief presentation about his company’s successful experience with industry – academe collaborations.  This was again followed by the breakout group discussions still in the four areas wherein the country’s top business leaders, such as Banco de Oro President Mr. Nestor Tan, Pilipinas Shell Country Chairman Mr. Edgar Chua, IBM Country General Ms. Mariels Almeda Winhoffer, and Planters Bank Chairman Amb. Jesus Tambunting, were present during the discussions to give added input from the side of industry.  The action points of each group were then presented to the plenary; the results of which were then used as the basis for the conclusions.

Despite its many challenges, these are clearly exciting times for Philippine higher education. The presence of top-level decision makers from industry, academe, and government at this year’s Summit illustrates the commitment of all sectors to building a higher education sector that will be the foundation of Philippine competitiveness.

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The Higher Education and Productivity project (HEP) is a project of Philippine Business for Education with generous support from the American people through USAID/Philippines.  The HEP aims to address the skills gap and mismatch problem by building long term industry – academe linkages at the national and provincial level.

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