Be job-ready through JobStart Philippines, Baldoz tells the youth

“Full-cycle employment facilitation includes enhanced career assessment and guidance, life skills training, technical skills training, and internship which are the major building blocks in preparing young people for productive employment.”

This was the statement of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday, as she reiterated her call for young jobseekers, ages 18-24, who are either currently not working, or has less than a year of work experience; not enrolled in an educational or training program, or at least completed a high school education or more, to avail of the opportunities offered by JobStart Philippines.

“JobStart Philippines offers exactly this ‘full-cycle’ employment facilitation services,” she said.

The JobStart Program is part of the Technical Assistance Program on Employment Facilitation for Inclusive Growth (EFIG), a synergy between the DOLE, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Government of Canada that seeks to pave the way for necessary reforms needed to make the country’s labor market more pragmatic, responsive, and attuned to the demands of the global economy.

Arvin Yana, ADB’s Communications Specialist for the JobStart Program, reported that as of date a total of 3,377 young jobseekers have vied for the 1,600 slots available under the program.

This number is distributed among the program’s four pilot areas, as follows: General Trias, Cavite, 386 applicants for 100 slots; Taguig, 1,204 for 240 slots; San Fernando, Pampanga, 852 for 360 slots; and Quezon City, 935 for 900 slots.

“The targeted 1,600 youth will be randomly selected by the JobStart Project Implementation Unit (PIU) consisting of ADB international and national consultants and training officers, four of whom shall be deployed to the four pilot areas as implementers,” Yana explained.

Baldoz said the JobStart program involves employers as partners who will have the opportunity to hire JobStart beneficiaries as interns with life skills and with employer-determined vocational training paid under the program.

The advantage for employers, Baldoz said, is that they will enjoy a reduced cost of internship, as they will pay the interns only 75 percent of the minimum wage.

“Employers who will participate in the program will receive P9,000 training fee per intern. They will also have the opportunity to demonstrate corporate social responsibility in the communities where they operate,” Baldoz said, as she bared during the third quarterly meeting of the PESOPHIL national officers in Dapitan City last week that the DOLE will start to mainstream the JobStart Philippines program in all the countries’ 16 regions next year, possibly using funds from the TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program.

JobStart’s objective is to raise the youth job placement rate to 80 percent from the current 60-65 percent rate.

There are 1.456 million unemployed youth as of April 2014, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority’s Labor Force Survey, accounting for 16 percent of the total youth labor force of 9.254 million. The youth belong to the 15-24 age bracket.

Baldoz noted that youth unemployment–while it had decreased by 1.1 percent, or by 13,000, from 16.8 percent in April 2013 to 15.7 percent in April 2014–still accounts for almost half, or 49.8 percent, of the country’s total unemployed placed at 2.924 million.

“The fact remains that youth unemployment rate is more than double the national unemployment rate and, therefore, this is a challenge we all need to address,” Baldoz said.

“The JobStart Program is a pivotal step in improving the youth employment situation in the country through the effective delivery of current labor market information, employment services, skills-jobs matching mechanisms, and other job search reforms,” she added.

She said the Philippines needs not just the support of international agency-partners, but also of local government units, especially the Public Employment Service Offices, or PESOs, to make the program an effective delivery mechanism of the government’s array of employment services.

“Convergence is what we need to solidify our efforts to contribute greatly to the realization of the Aquino III administration’s agenda of strengthening local employment services, of solving the jobs-skills mismatch, and of pushing back unemployment. Sustained commitment of our partners, both international and local, is needed so that more students and jobseekers will be educated towards making wise and excellent career decisions,” Baldoz finally said.

END/hjtg

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