Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged workers in the informal economy to widen and develop their skills so they could enhance their employability and, thus, improve their living conditions.
In her keynote address read by Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III at the commemoration of Labor Day for Workers in the Informal Economy, held at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, Baldoz said:
“Isasaalang-alang natin ang pangkasalukuyang layunin ng ating pamahalaan na palawigin pa ang kaalaman at kakayahan ng mga manggagawa sa impormal na ekonomiya upang magkaroon ng disenteng kabuhayan ang nakararami sa inyo. Kaakibat ng layunin na ito ay ang adhikain na sabay-sabay na mai-angat ang estado ng pamumuhay ng lahat ng mamamayan.”
Over 200 workers in the informal economy attended the whole-day event, which ran on the theme, “Aming Kasanayan Tungo Sa Disenteng Kabuhayan”.
In her address, Baldoz said skills enhancement is also a way for workers in the informal sector to equip themselves and be ready for the implementation of the ASEAN integration this year.
“Bagamat ito ay magbubukas ng maraming oportunidad sa bansa, nananatiling hamon pa din sa pamahalaan na tiyaking handa ang ating mga manggagawa upang makasabay sa kumpetisyon na dulot nito. Kaya naman pina-iigting natin ang mga programa na makapagbibigay ng sapat na kaalaman, kakayahan, at oportunidad sa mga manggagawa,” said Baldoz.
In the Philippines, workers in the informal sector (WIS) constitute a big portion of the country’s labor force or 39.1 percent of the total employed workers based on the January 2015 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Workers in this sector are in various industries, such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and services.
Baldoz assured the participants in the event that the enhanced social protection operational framework and strategy of the government guarantees an intensified implementation of programs and services that will enhance the capabilities and provide protection to workers in the informal sector. One of these programs and services is the provision of opportunities for short-term employment, especially to workers displaced by economic crisis/calamities.
During the event, the DOLE National Capital Region conducted an orientation for the informal workers on the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.
Also, the DOLE, through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) distributed cash vouchers to 70 informal workers for competency assessment and certification.
The skills which will be assessed by the Association of Construction and Informal Workers (ACIW) included those of computer technician, electrical and installation maintenance, carpentry, painting, scaffolding, plumbing, and masonry. To the recipients of the cash vouchers, Baldoz told them:
“Kayo po ang dahilan kung bakit kami ay pursigidong mamuhunan sa pamamagitan ng mga programa at serbisyo sapagkat kami ay naniniwala na ang ating mga manggagawa ang may kakayahan na lumikha ng yaman tungo sa pag-unlad ng ating bayan,” said Baldoz.
She urged the ACIW to work hand-in-hand with DOLE to promote social protection and improve the employability of their members through skills enhancement.
“Kailangan lang natin ang malakas at matibay na “partnership” o pagtutulungan, upang makamit natin ang ating layunin–ang patuloy na matulungan ang ating mga manggagawa at kababayan upang makahanap ng disente at maayos na pagkakakitaan,” she said.
The TESDA also conducted skills demonstration on food processing, flower arrangement, fashion accessories-making, and bag- and wallet-making during the one-day event.
The Labor Day Celebration for Workers in the Informal Economy is aimed at giving due recognition to the economic and social contributions of workers in the informal sector and to strengthen their competitiveness and employability.