(File photo)

MANILA – A lawmaker on Monday supported the plan of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for the government to upskill Filipino students in the English language as a way to further sharpen the competitive edge of professionals and other workers in the global market.

In a statement, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said proficiency in English has opened a lot of opportunities for those looking for jobs as well as for workers to keep their current employment or get promoted, because most corporations require from their employees and would-be hires a fair amount of skill in English.

Villafuerte cited the President himself in his June 30 inaugural speech as he stressed the need to reteach the basic skills in "the national language, with equal emphasis and facility in a global language, which we had and lost".

"President Marcos is correct in looking at reteaching basic skills in our schools not only in Filipino but in English as well as part of his administration’s planned education reforms,” he said. "Keeping our labor force highly attractive for local and international employers is one means for the Marcos administration’s economic transformation to succeed."

Villafuerte said the country’s competitive edge in English proficiency has been confirmed by a media report that said the Philippines’ ranking has improved in the English Proficiency Index (EPI), an online Standard English Test conducted by the Switzerland-based EF Education First Ltd. that measures the average skill level in the English language of 112 economies.

The report said the Philippines’ ranking went up to No. 18 (with a score of 592) in 2020 from 2019’s No. 27 (with a score of 562).

The country’s score of 592 was considered of “high proficiency,” according to the report, which was enough for tasks such as making presentations at work, reading newspapers or understanding shows on television.

He said the Filipino workers’ skill in English has enabled them to work abroad or here in the country as outsourced professionals in the information technology, healthcare, customer care and other industries.

Villafuerte said in the business process outsourcing sector, for instance, the Philippines has been a top leader in this global industry because the country has been known for having, among others, a cost-efficient labor and an educated workforce with communication proficiency in English.

With English taught in schools, he said the Philippines has become one of the world’s largest English-speaking economies and over 300,000 graduates enrich our country’s professional pool each year. (PNA)