Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Wednesday outlined some of the strategies that she said the Department of Labor and Employment will continue to pursue this year and until 2016 that could sustain the general uptick in employment in the country and, conversely, the continuing decline in unemployment as mentioned by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) the other day.
“The President in his SONA spoke of the 3.1 million jobs created in the last two years as one of the reasons why the unemployment rate has gone down from 8 percent in 2010 to only 6.9 percent in April this year,” Baldoz said.
“This happened not without causes, and one of those was the DOLE’s persistent pursuit of the “overarching goal of investing in our human resources, making our workforce competitive and employable, while promoting industrial peace based on social justice,” she explained, adding that ensuring the presence of available skilled and competitive workforce was parallel to the strategy of attracting more investments that would create jobs.
The labor and employment chief further said that in the pursuit of this goal, the DOLE, with its broad mandate of facilitating employment, rolled out several reform programs and strategies that she observed have already gained momentum and taken roots.
One of these is career guidance advocacy geared towards improving the competencies and job-matching ability of the youth and ensuring that they are enterprise-ready in a knowledge-based economy.
“This had made guidance counseling relevant again. Through the country’s guidance counselors’ network, we have empowered high school students in making better career decisions and wise choices about their future careers,” Baldoz observed.
Underscoring the importance of career guidance, Baldoz said the DOLE has converged with the Departments of Education, Science and Technology, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Professional Regulation Commission, as well as the representatives of key employment generating sectors, in forging a joint commitment to prepare the youth for the world of work through the conduct of the yearly Career Congress, which has been institutionalized at the regional and national level.
“Our ultimate goal is to shorten the time for job seekers in looking for jobs and to minimize the jobs-skill mismatch,” said Baldoz.
Another reform, according to Baldoz, was making employment facilitation services more accessible and transparent to the general public through the enhanced PhilJobnet, the government’s official online job portal.
“Extensive and sustained promotion of the PhilJobNet and its uses have made it one of the more widely used online job search, referral, and matching facility. By setting a target of 100,000 vacant jobs solicited, uploaded, and displayed by employers at any given time, DOLE regional offices, including the BLE which administers the PhilJobnet, have been constantly challenged to improve their coordination with Public Employment Service Offices, local and national government agencies, employers and employers’ organizations, and other DOLE partners,” the labor and employment chief said.
At the grassroots level, the DOLE has established the Skills Registry System (SRS) that enables local government units to improve the referral, employment coaching, training, and labor market information (LMI) services of the Public Employment Service Offices or the PESOs in the community.
“Through the wide scale implementation of the SRS, we will be able to capture the pool of available talents throughout the country. This particularly becomes useful for locating the needed skills that would match the available jobs in the key growth industries identified in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, especially now that the government is in the process of rolling out its infrastructure projects in identified growth areas nationwide,” Baldoz further explained.
The ingenuity of Skills Registry System is its ability to capture the ‘liveness’ of available skills at the community level, making the skills information accessible to establishments and industries needing them in the right place at the right time.
Finally, Baldoz said that the DOLE is aware that despite the significant gains in employment that have been achieved during the last two and a half years, there remain serious challenges, such as the prevalence of high youth unemployment and high underemployment.