Although conceptual and methodological differences in the conduct of the official Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Social Weather Stations’ Survey on Adult Joblessness make their results incomparable, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday reiterated that the whole picture of the country’s employment situation that both surveys show challenges the DOLE—day by day—to do better and make its employment facilitation programs respond to the realities and needs Filipino workers. “No, we are not dismayed at all by the results of the SWS’ 2014 Fourth Quarter Survey on Adult Joblessness,” she said in an answer to a question at the commemoration activity on the 88th birthday of the late Secretary reporter’s Blas F. Ople in Malolos, Bulacan. “However, we would like to emphasize that the concept of joblessness and unemployment—which even the SWS is very careful to distinguish—are entirely two different matters,” Baldoz added. She explained that job refers to the type of work that a person does, while employment refers to a person with a job. “An employed person can have more than one job, e.g., a teacher who teaches in a private school, but is also a part-time tutor, and he or she is counted as one person employed in the official Labor Force Survey. The SWS survey joblessness; the Labor Force Survey counts the employed,” she said. Baldoz said the definition of the “unemployed” in the LFS covers people meeting three criteria: (1) without work; (2) looking for work; and (3) available for work. “One who does not meet any one of these three criteria at the time of the survey is considered not “economically active” or not in the labor force. The labor force is the working age population 15 years and above,” she explained. Baldoz also explained that the reference period of the LFS accounts for the SWS’ higher ‘joblessness’ result because the longer the reference period, the lower the number of unemployed could be. The LFS’ reference period for those without work and looking for work is seven days (the past week), while the reference period for those asked whether they are available for work is past week or within two weeks following interview date. Another difference that accounts for the incomparability of the LFS and SWS surveys is the sample size of the surveys. The LFS surveys 51,000 households. On the “one hour” criterion defining the employed, Baldoz said this is an international standard that the Philippines follows. “The term ‘employment’ is linked to the total concept of production defined by the UN System of National Accounts (SNA), which says any activity falling within the SNA, however small, is considered as work for the purpose of measuring employment. All work, even for only one hour a week, contributes to the total national output, and should, therefore, be counted,” she said. Baldoz noted that while the SWS applied the official definition of unemployment in its 4th quarter 2014 survey, the resulting ‘joblessness’ still reached 7.3 million Filipinos. “Here lies the incomparability of the LFS and SWS survey data. Historically, the survey results of the SWS are higher than the results of the LFS,” she said. Having said this, the labor and employment chief said that in looking at the SWS survey result, she noted the positive—the 36 percent of the respondents who said the number of available jobs in the next 12 months would increase, approximates the first quarter 2014 SWS survey result on this indicator. She also reiterated that whether it is shown by the official Labor Force Survey or by the SWS or some other surveys, the DOLE takes the problem of unemployment very seriously. “We see the result of the SWS survey as building blocks in further sharpening our employment facilitation strategies. By taking the problem head-on, we are able to see the clearer picture at various angles. In fact, I have already instructed the DOLE’s Institute for Labor Studies to look closely and deeply at the SWS data, not for comparison, but to find positive inputs that can help DOLE enhance its response to this challenge,” she said. Baldoz further said: “The DOLE certainly does not view this problem through rose-colored lenses. This is why we are decisively helping address the problem by promoting and implementing job creation programs, such as the promotion of sustainable industrial peace; and by delivering more efficiently our employment facilitation services, such as the delivery of correct, relevant, and updated labor market information; career guidance and counseling; workers’ training; and capability building,” Baldocaz explained. One of the programs she cited is JobStart Philippines, a full cycle employment facilitation program that offers enhanced career guidance services, life skills training, job matching and referral, technical training, and internship and seeks to shorten the job search period from two years to nine months. As of date, a total of 2,162 young people have been provided with enhanced career guidance, which included skills assessment, labor market information, and one-on-one career coaching. Another 1,226 beneficiaries have finished the eight-day life skills training. The DOLE, Baldoz further explained, also continues to intensify its job fairs both on-site and virtual means. It continues to emphasize and support the Special Program for the Employment of Students, or SPES, which in 2014 benefited over 200,000 poor, but deserving, students and out-of-school youth with the opportunity to earn and continue their studies. Under the SPES, the DOLE shoulders the 40 percent of the salaries of beneficiaries, while their employers—government agencies, such as local government units, and private companies and other sponsor-institutions—pay the 60 percent. Other employment facilitation programs that Baldoz mentioned are the Government Internship Program (GIP), Youth Employment and Youth Entrepreneurship (YEYE) Program, and Training for Work Scholarship Program, which she said are already making a dent in youth unemployment. She also mentioned the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, or DILEEP, which she said seeks to contribute to poverty reduction and reduce vulnerability to risks of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers, either through: (1) transitional emergency employment; and (2) promotion of entrepreneurship and community enterprises. Last year, 292,853 individual beneficiaries, or more than a quarter of a million Filipinos, benefited from the DILEEP. “We are working very hard to face head-on the unemployment problem and decisively working with other government agencies to address the problem of jobs mismatch by implementing programs on employment facilitation, enhancing employability, strengthening social protection, and promoting and sustaining industrial peace that will attract investments that further create jobs,” she said. END/gerryrubio

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