Published March 16, 2019, 7:25 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Dom Galeon

In recent years, more and more nations, particularly in the west, have started to fear widespread unemployment that threatens to affect the developed world in the next decade or so.

CAREER FESTIVAL - Manila Bulletin Classifieds Job Fair 2019 is scheduled to open this Tuesday, at Farmer's Market Cubao, gathering companies and job seekers in one event. (MANILA BULLETIN)
CAREER FESTIVAL – Manila Bulletin Classifieds Job Fair 2019 is scheduled to open this Tuesday, at Farmer’s Market Cubao, gathering companies and job seekers in one event. (MANILA BULLETIN)

This predicted a surge in unemployment, according to a number of studies, will be due in large part to automation, a trend that more and more companies are beginning to latch on.

In the future, these studies argue, more and more machines will take over human jobs, especially manual labor.

An Oxford University research suggests that around 57 per­cent of jobs all around the world are at risk of being taken over by machines, which are ex­pected to be cheaper and more efficient than human workers.

But all of that is in the future, near or distant. In the Philippines, at least, em­ployment is on the rise.

According to data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), unemployment in the country has gone down from 6.6 percent in 2017 (the highest in recent years) to 5.2 percent in the begin­ning of 2019.

The country’s employment rate, conversely, is up at 94.9 percent—a total of around 41.2 million people—by the end of 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

“Workers in the services sector composed the largest proportion of the employed persons,” the PSA report read.

“These workers made up 56.6 percent of the total employed in 2018. Among them, those engaged in the wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles accounted for the largest proportion (19.4 percent) of workers […]. Work­ers in the agricul­ture sector was the second largest group making up 24.3 percent of the total employed in 2018, while work­ers in the indus­try sector made up the smallest group registering 19.1 percent of the total employed.”

These numbers indicate that there are more jobs avail­able for Filipinos today.

The govern­ment has taken a more active role in bridging the em­ployment needs of various companies and the available workforce in the country.

Apart from the govern­ment, there are also private enti­ties that host job fairs. One of these is The Manila Bul­letin (MB).

Since 2010, MB has been hosting at least five job fairs a year, with the first for this year scheduled to open this Tuesday at Farmers Market in Cubao.

Over the past years, the MB Job Fair has brought together 35 to 40 companies and an average of 4,000 job seekers.

The idea is to streamline the job hunting process to allow companies to hire on-the-spot.

Based on data gathered from previous MB Job Fairs, almost 30 percent of job seekers are hired on-the-spot, while 60 percent are deemed qualified for an available job.

Aside from this, the MB Job Fair has also provided important data on job trends. In terms of availability, there remains to be a demand for call center agents and workers at the food and beverage and hospitality sectors.

BPOs have a high turnaround employ­ment rate, while restaurants are always looking for additional manpower due to expansions.

“We always believe that every Fili­pino needs and deserves a better oppor­tunity,” said Mark Dy, head of marketing at The Manila Bulletin.

“That is why we are planning bigger job fairs in the next years to come. We plan to increase the participation of overseas agencies and seek the partnership of our government agencies to conduct free training and tutorials at the event itself.”

For this year, the MB Job Fair is scheduled on the following dates: March 19-20 at the Farmers Market in Cubao, May 21-22 at the Skydome of SM North EDSA, July 17-18 at the Fisher Mall in Quezon City, Sept. 17-18 at Farmers Mar­ket in Cubao, and Nov. 19-20 at a venue that has yet to be announced.