(Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz issues the statement below following the release by the International Labor Organization Country Office for the Philippines of its Philippine Employment Trends 2015 report).
“I welcome the report of the International Labor Organization’s Philippine Employment Trends 2015 report that seeks to take stock of progress and developments towards our economic, including employment, targets.
“The report, in particular, shows that employment has expanded by more than 4 million, or 11.8 percent, over a five-year period, 2008-2013, despite the many challenges that the country has had to face through these years.
“I believe that President Benigno S. Aquino III’s labor and employment agenda, which the DOLE has translated into meaningful and substantive reforms that we have been implementing in earnest, is to be credited for this positive development.
“I note that the report validates Philippine official data on the outcomes spurred by these reforms. For example, wage employment, which is one measure of employment quality, has improved by 24.7 percent over the five-year period, or 4.4 million in absolute terms. Conversely, employment of unpaid family workers has declined by 5.6 percent. The Report also shows that vulnerable employment, which is another measure of the quality of employment, declined from 43.5 per cent in 2008 to 38.3 per cent in 2013. It also shows faster employment growth among women workers, 14 percent compared to 10.5 percent for men.
“We agree with the ILO that the unemployment challenge is primarily a youth phenomenon, as official data of the Philippine Statistics Authority shows youth unemployment accounts for half of the total unemployed Filipinos. But even on this score, the Philippines has shown modest gains. In the January 2015 Labor Force Survey, youth unemployment among the 15 to 24 year olds has gone down from 17.3 percent in January 2014 to 15 percent in January 2015. Over an expanded period, from 2008 to 2013, the Report shows that youth unemployment rate declined slightly from 17.4 per cent to 16.1 per cent. The Philippines, through the DOLE, has been working very closely with the ILO since 2010 to address youth unemployment, and I believe this is contributory to the decline.
“There is ample evidence that our package of reforms in the areas employment facilitation, workers’ welfare and protection, labor relations, and labor governance crucially respond to the continuing and emerging challenges posed by changes in the labor market, including the problems and opportunities the forthcoming 2015 integration of the ASEAN Economic Community may bring. Brick by brick, we are building stronger labor governance institutions supported by responsive labor and employment policies that will sustain our gains. By never losing sight of our national goal of poverty reduction in multiple dimensions and massive creation of quality employment, we hope to see the positive trends continue. I note that the ILO has observed a modest decline of poverty rate among all Filipino workers to 21.9 per cent in 2012 from 22.9 percent in 2006.
“I cite in particular our efforts in striking a balance between maintaining greater flexibility for enterprises and industries to be more competitive on the one hand, and ensuring protection for the more vulnerable groups of workers on the other hand. We also practice convergence with our key national government allies and tripartite partners to ensure consistency of policy to create more impact and increase employment opportunities, as well as to encourage private sector participation so that we can maximize benefits from limited resources.
“I am pleased that the ILO has taken notice of our labor market intervention programs and projects, such as the Training for Work Scholarship Program, Special Program for Employment of Students, Community-Based Employment Program which is part of our DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, Public Employment Service Office, Government Internship Program, the PhilJobNet, Apprenticeship and Learnership Program, and the latest, JobStart Philippines, all of which are geared towards enhancing employability, facilitating access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and protecting workers’ rights and promoting their welfare.