Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bello calls for sustained effort on employment challenges

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III yesterday expressed optimism on the employment situation after survey showed a decline in the unemployment and underemployment rates in the country.

“The President’s Development Plan aims to lower the unemployment rate between 3 and 5 percent by 2022. The latest results of the Labor Force Survey calls for sustained and bolder efforts to further ease unemployment, particularly for the youth sector,” Bello said.

The latest survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the unemployment rate is recorded at 5.7 percent compared to last year’s 6.1 percent.

Although the unemployment rate has declined, the Labor Force Survey showed that unemployment rate is high for young people, or those who are between 15 and 24 years old. This age group comprises half of the unemployed, with 49.5 percent share or 1.209 million.

Bello said that DOLE is optimistic that youth unemployment will be strongly addressed, considering that several programs have been enacted into law to increase the employability of the youth sector.

One of which is the JobStart Program (R.A. 10869) which is designed to enhance the employability of the youth by giving them career guidance, free technical and life skills trainings, placement in internships, and job referrals.

There is also the SPES or Special Program for Employment of Students which is an employment-bridging program that provides income to poor but deserving students and out of school youth who intend to finish their education.

The amended Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Law is also expected to better serve jobseekers.

To fast track the jobseeker's search for jobs and the employer's search for workforce, there is the enhanced PhilJobNet, an internet-based job and applicant matching system, and the yearlong job and business fairs conducted throughout the country under the banner of Trabaho, Negosyo, at Kabuhayan (TNK) in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Another positive indicator in the April 2017 round of the Labor Force Survey is the decline in underemployment rate, from 18.3 percent to 16.1 percent.

This means improvement in the quality of employment as the number of underemployed persons has decreased from 7.431 million in April 2016 to 6.468 million in April 2017.

The April 2017 round of the Labor Force Survey also reported a labor force participation rate of 61.4 percent out of the 69.6 million population of 15 years and over.

Compared to the same period last year, the labor force participation has decreased from 43.289 million (63.5 percent) in April 2016 to 42.714 million (61.4 percent) in April 2017.

Out of those who are in the labor force, 40.271 million or 94.3 percent are employed. This is a slight decrease compared to the 40.664 million employed persons in April 2016.

Although the unemployment and underemployment rates decreased, Bello emphasized the need to sustain DOLE’s efforts to strengthen decent work gains and address the remaining challenges.

He said that one strategy is to ensure an increase in the country’s investments which would hopefully translate in generation of more quality and decent employment for the Filipinos.

He cited the recently concluded job and business fairs during the Labor Day and Independence Day celebrations which proved that there are thousands of job opportunities which need to be filled up.

The ongoing infrastructure projects will also provide hundreds of thousand jobs each year, including tourism, information technology and business process outsourcing management, transportation and logistics, and retail trade.

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