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Philippines' Smart boosts recruitment by bringing tech to schools

Telecom leader's plan to slow brain drain leads to award for student innovation

An electronics engineering instructor interacts with a Smart Communications staffer as part of the company's Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program.

MANILA -- In 2002, Smart Communications, a wireless unit of Philippine telecom leader PLDT, was facing an exodus of engineers. Every month, an average of 75 staffers were resigning to work abroad, where salaries and benefits could be five times what they received in the Philippines.

"They were poaching an entire department," said Cynthia Capua, Smart senior academic partnership supervisor, recalling the situation 15 years ago. During that time, telecoms across the world were migrating into digital telecom infrastructure from analog, boosting demand for engineers, she said.

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