Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday lauded the DOLE’s tripartite partners for their continued and intensified efforts in addressing job-skills matching, saying their strong cooperation made the country advance a step closer to improving employment generation and overall competitiveness the Philippine workforce.

“Talent is an important component in ensuring long-term competitiveness of countries.  and businesses. And while the Philippines still needs to address a couple of gaps to maximize the participation of its entire labor force, I am glad to say that we are on the right track,” Baldoz said, in a keynote speech delivered during the National Human Resource Summit, held at the Century Park Hotel, Manila on 17 December.

The labor and employment chief further elucidated on three major challenges that confront the labor market, saying:

“The Philippine labor market is challenged by a number of key issues that we—policy makers, members of the executive branch, industry players, labor sector, the academe, and other interest groups—seek to address through this summit,” Baldoz said.

Citing the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs, she said that among these key issues are whether or not (1) countries should build their development strategies around growth or should they focus on jobs; (2) greater investments in education and training a pre-requisite for employability or can skills be built through jobs; and (3) in times of major crises and structural shifts, jobs (not just workers) should also be protected.

“It is in this context that the two landmark documents, the JobsFit Labor Market Information Report 2013-2020 and the Career Guidance Advocacy (CGA) Plan 2013-2016, attempted to respond to the above-quoted policy challenges. [This] particularly refers to jobs, workers employability, as well as education and training,” Baldoz said.

On the first issue, the labor and employment chief noted that the Philippines has successfully achieved growth; that according to Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Ratings, the Aquino administration’s good governance efforts encouraged business confidence and kept the country on the investor’s radar.

“The Philippines has been regarded as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia during the second quarter of 2013, with the country’s gross domestic product growing by as much as 7.5 percent. This keeps us at pace with China, which is faster than any other Asian economies,” Baldoz said, noting however that inclusiveness of economic growth remains elusive.

“It is for this reason that in the updated Philippine Development Plan this year, inclusive growth is directed toward massive employment generation and substantial poverty reduction. This means that all those who want to work can find a job that can provide for the needs of the worker and his dependents,” she added.

The labor and employment chief also emphasized that based on the 2009/2010 Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) Integrated Survey, the primary reasons why employers experience difficulty in hiring are due to (a) lack of competencies of the applicants; (b) expectation of high salary; (c) lack of years of experience; (d) lack of applicant for the vacancy post; (e) location/work schedule problem; (f) lack of license/certification; and (g) preference to work abroad.

“Our policy response in the second issue is clear. During the 2nd State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 2011, the DOLE together with the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) took the challenge of addressing job and skills mismatch,” Baldoz said.

It can also be recalled that the DepEd advanced reforms in the education sector with the enactment of Republic Act No. 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education law, popularly known as the K to 12 program.

In October 2013, the Agricultural Training Institute and TESDA also laid out series of workshops for the Competency Standards and Competency Assessment Tools.

CHED, for its part, through the issuance of Memorandum No. 46, Series of 2012, is enhancing the quality assurance system of quality assurance system of the Philippine Higher Education through learning competency-based system to produce quality leaders, thinkers, planners, researchers, technological innovators, entrepreneurs, and the much needed workforce of the economy.

On the third issue, Baldoz said, “education and training, as well as the qualifications of our professionals and skilled workers, are of paramount concern.”

“This is mirrored by institutionalization of the Philippine Qualifications Framework on 1 October 2012, and the development ASEAN Qualifications Framework, which is both undertaken to provide a unified scheme for greater learner and labor mobility,” she added.

Toward this end, Baldoz encouraged everyone present in the Summit to push through with the convergent actions in the implementation of policies and strategies that would generate employment; as well as to provide more ways to decrease the gaps in jobs and skills.

“Let us keep working with a long-term perspective in mind. The bottom-line is that our global competitiveness depends on our determined capacity and sustained commitment to bring the Philippines to the threshold of the new economy in terms of human resource development,” she finally said.

END/hjtg

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