By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Thursday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to strengthen its existing employment programs to help ensure that Filipinos, especially the youth, will land high-paying jobs.
Angara made the call amid reports of high youth unemployment and underemployment rates in the country, citing that 1.04 million or almost half of the 2.32 million unemployed Filipinos are youth aged 15 to 24, based on the July 2018 labor force survey.
“The figures suggest that: one, the country’s unemployment challenge is primarily a youth phenomenon, and that the quality of jobs in the Philippines is deteriorating,” said Angara, vice chair of the Senate finance committee.
“The government should intensify its jobs programs which target the youth. We commend the decrease in unemployment but more than that, we should look at the incomes. The country should be generating higher paying jobs,” added Angara, who is also tasked to sponsor and defend DOLE’s proposed budget for 2019.
The senator said the survey only shows that many of the unemployed were still awaiting results of their previous job application, waiting for rehire or job recall, and were tired or they believed that there is no more work available.
While unemployment rate has decreased from 5.6 percent in July last year to 5.4 percent this year, underemployment has increased from 16.3 percent to 17.2 percent.
This means that more employed Filipinos are still looking for more work or longer working hours either because they do not have regular full-time jobs that are high-paying, or because they are experiencing job mismatch.
Angara noted that the DOLE has employment facilitation programs particularly the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES), and the JobStart Program—al of which are mandated by laws that Angara had sponsored.
“We ushered the passage of laws strengthening PESO and SPES, and institutionalizing JobStart primarily to solve our unemployment problems and to help the youth land a job faster,” he said.
“Kahit iyong mga college graduate kasi ay inaabot ng dalawang taon bago makakuha ng trabaho. Paano pa kaya yung mga hindi nakapagtapos (These college graduates endured two years before they got a job. What more those who were not able to finish school),” Angara said.
“Pero bukod sa tulungan silang magka-trabaho, dapat ay siguruhin din na sapat ang kanilang kita. Parang sa edukayon—mas malawak na ang access ngayon dahil libre na ang tuition, pero dapat ay de-kalidad pa din ang pagtuturo, (But apart from ensuring they have a job, let’s make sure they are earning sufficiently. Like in education—they have broader access now because tuition is free, but still the quality of teaching must be excellent),” Angara said.
According to the data from DOLE, 6.5 million individuals were provided with labor market information and referred for job placement through PESO in 2017 alone; almost 200,000 youth were provided with temporary employment under SPES; and, nearly 8,000 youth were provided with life skills training under JobStart.
Angara assured that such programs will be given sufficient funding to empower DOLE to meet or even exceed its target beneficiaries for next year.
According to DOLE Bureau of Local Employment Director Nikki Tutay, the number of unemployed youth dropped from 1.5 million in 2010 to 1.1 million in 2018 because of the SPES and JobStart programs.