/ 30 March 2022

CITING the huge number of job opening the country’s biggest railway project would bring, Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday urged schools to offer railway engineering and technology courses.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education said that the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul is a huge job generator and requires trained and skilled manpower to run and operate it.

“The government should start a national program to produce a cadre of railway technology experts in select universities,” Villanueva said.

Only the Polytechnic University of the Philippines offers a graduate program in railway engineering. The Commission on Higher Education also has a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Transportation for the continuing training of railway technicians and engineers.

The senator also urged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to ensure accessibility of programs for skilling, upskilling and reskilling of workers, especially in the construction sector, to successfully implement and construct the government’s infrastructure projects.

Villanueva made the call for the government to lay the educational groundwork for the country’s railway future after it awarded last month the P142 billion contract to build the line’s first 380 kilometers from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay.

The senator described the modernized and extended Bicol Express as a game changer that will safely and cheaply move people and their produce from and within three regions – Metro Manila, CALABARZON and Bicol.

The PNR Bicol project is expected to generate more than 5,000 jobs per year during construction.