MANILA As President Rodrigo R. Duterte's administration embarks to expand the country's rail network system, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to institutionalize courses aimed at creating a competent local workforce to manage the growing demands of the industry and wean the country of its reliance on foreign experts.
"One of the problems confronting our rail sector over the years is the lack of professionals with the appropriate competencies to respond to the growing demands of the industry. There is a need to produce local railway engineers, planners, and experts," the lawmaker said.
With the government targeting to build 1,900-km of additional rail networks, we should open opportunities for the youth to embark on careers in rail transport and logistics, Gatchalian said.
The expansion of the country's railway system is part of the big ticket projects included in the Duterte Administration's "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program.
At present, the government runs a total 77-km rail lines distributed across four operating platforms: Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, and the Philippine National Railways.
To prepare for the upcoming expansion, Gatchalian said that CHED should look into partnering with the Department of Transportation on what courses are needed by the country's rail sector.
He added that CHED should likewise strengthen its linkages with countries experienced in advanced rail transportation technologies in order to foster knowledge transfers that will enhance Philippine research, development, and planning in the said field.
By creating a local pool of specialists, he said the government will no longer need to rely on foreign experts, and can start building local capabilities to produce and maintain trains.
"This is one academic discipline that has not been fully tapped, unlike in other well-advanced countries which are investing heavily in improving their railways through meticulous research and strategic planning," Gatchalian said.
"There is so much potential in our rail transport sector, if only we focus on its development. The improved mobility and interconnectivity would be a pivotal driver of economic growth," he said.
Source: Philippine News Agency