Bringing LMI in the regions
DOLE-ADB-CIDA JobStart program kicks off to enhance youth employability

The Department of Labor and Employment, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), last week has jump-started implementation of the JobStart Philippines Program in San Fernando, Pampanga to empower more young entrants as they enter the world of work and to bring down the national agenda of inclusive growth through employment-led and labor market information strategies down to the grassroots.

The JobStart Program is part of the Technical Assistance Program on Employment Facilitation for Inclusive Growth (EFIG), a synergy between the DOLE, ADB, and CIDA 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.

“The project aims to increase the employability of the youth by providing them access to life technical skills training demanded by employers and by mentoring and tooling them to improve their job searches and outcomes. The project will also finance vouchers that will enable selected youth-beneficiaries to gain work experience in companies through on-the-job training,” , Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said of the JobStart Program.

The JobStart program is designed to enhance the employability of “at-risk youths” and to improve their integration into productive employment.

“At-risk youths” are those 18-24 years of age 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.

“Of the targeted 1,600 at-risk youth randomly selected to benefit from the program, 360 will be allotted for Central Luzon (City PESO of San Fernando), while the remaining will be allotted for other pilots areas in the PESOs of Quezon City; Taguig City; and General Trias, Cavite,” DOLE Regional Office No. 3 Director Raymundo Agravante said in a report to Baldoz.

Under the agreement, the DOLE, through the BLE, shall create and manage 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.

The PIU shall select 360 qualified applicants or students from the PESO registry to receive technical and life skills training and work experience.

Part of the role of the DOLE is to provide technical assistance for the massive dissemination of LMI tools and information materials, alongside with extensive capacity-building for the PESO staff. Local chief executives and PESO managers and staff shall be immersed in various workshops and study visits to make them adept with the use of labor market information, to improve their abilities to plan their careers and search for jobs, and to enable them to make the right career choices.

The DOLE shall provide PESO offices with computer units and vouchers for selected young adults in the pilot areas. On the other hand, the LGUs shall be in-charge of providing the PESOs with additional, full-time manpower for the JobStart program, and an office.

Director Agravante led DOLE officials from the national office and regional partners and DOLE employees in the launching of the program at the Heroes Hall of San Fernando City Hall.

“The JumpStart 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,” he said during the launching.

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

“It will make accessible labor market information to more students–our future workers–especially in the regions,” Baldoz said.

The signing of the Memorandum of Undertaking (MOU) between Regional Director Agravante of the DOLE Regional Office No. 3, Director Dominique Tutay of the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) and Mayor Edwin Santiago of the local government of Pampanga was one of the highlights of the launch. Acting City Vice Mayor Angelica Hizon, CIDA Country Program Manager Luke Myers, ADB Director Shigeko Hattori, DOLE Pampanga Field Office Head Arlene Tolentino, and Pampanga PESO Manager Donnie Sayre also graced the event and acted as witnesses.

Both ADB and CIDA heads expressed their full support and high hopes that the JobStart program shall help more young Fernandinos in achieving decent jobs.

“The motivation behind this project is that ADB shares with the Philippine Government’s priority of achieving inclusive growth through jobs creation of almost million jobseekers each year,” Hattori said.

“We are pleased to join the DOLE, ADB, and the City Government of San Fernando in launching this program. We are confident that we’ll be able to assist the youth in gaining productive employment not only in this city but also in nearby towns and other cities as well,” Myers added.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz shared the same outlook as she accentuated the convergence that is needed to make the pilot test of the JobStart program in the regions a success.

“Convergence is what we need to solidify our efforts to contribute greatly to the realization of the Aquino government’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 said.

(with reporting from Jeremiah Borja, LCO RO3)

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