In support of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” campaign, Japan and the Philippines have signed a memorandum of agreement to augment the country’s skilled labor force.

The MOA was signed by Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Ease of Doing Business Group (CEODBG) Ruth B. Castelo, and Japan’s Vice Minister for Land Infrastructure and Hokkaido Development of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Koichi Yoshida. Castelo said that the “Build, Build, Build” campaign of the current administration was plagued by an estimated shortage of at least 2 million skilled workers (Laborers with training in specialized jobs such as tile setting, electrical skills or carpentry) – or roughly 70% of the available construction industry workforce. This figure is already down from 2.5 million unskilled workers in 2016 thanks to government efforts.


Castelo said that for the next three years under the agreement, Japan will provide construction experts to train trainers and direct workers here in the Philippines. The MLIT will also be coordinating with the Overseas Construction Association of Japan Inc. (OCAJI) to employ and train Filipino workers. It is Japan’s firm belief that their technology and know-how will greatly bolster the Filipino construction industry. MLIT Deputy Director General Hidejiro Suzuki was quoted as saying “We are expecting our technology and know-how of Japanese companies to surely contribute to your industry.

Castelo also said that the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who complete the three year work/training period with the OCAJI will return to the Philippines and the government will work with major construction companies here such as DMCI and the Makati Development Corporation to incorporate these OFWs – and their experience – into the workforce.

Castelo described the project as “A mutual commitment between the government of the Philippines and government of Japan to develop the Philippine construction manpower sector.”