“We will train to fit.”

This is what Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas echoed when asked about what measures are needed to address the unemployment problem in the country.

Appearing on Tuesday night at the Network Forum, a talkshow program aired over NBN 4 television network, Sto. Tomas told television host Cerge Remonde that there are market adjustments needed in terms of workers’ skills and the country’s ability to catch up with the requirements of the time.

“We will train to fit. Kung ano ang requirement ng job market, iyon ang iti-train namin,” she said adding, “for companies in need of 20-100 workers, they can call up DOLE and we will train workers that they need.”

According to her, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), an attached agency of DOLE, is really working at trying to meet the demands of the (job) market as they train for those skills and professions that the market needs.

“There are currently job mismatches in the market because workers are trained for a specific thing but the demands we are seeing now are in another field,” Sto. Tomas elaborated. The labor chief said that this gives an impression that landing a job is difficult these days.

Given the state of global economy however, the labor chief said that the country did well in terms of employment last year. She cited the October 2004 labor force survey result which indicated that more workers found jobs last year compared to 2003.

Last year, some 871,000 workers were deployed overseas while around 741,000 found local jobs through the DOLE’s employment network. Sto. Tomas said that most of the local jobs were permanent.

While the unemployment rate as of October 2004 stood at 10.7 percent compared to 10.2 percent during the same period in 2003, she explained that the labor force in 2004 was bigger.

The labor chief also expressed optimism on the prospects of overseas employment this year, particularly if the problem in Iraq is resolved and the situation in other parts of the world stabilizes. She said that the Middle East is a big market for overseas Filipino workers and the reign of peace in the region will benefit Filipinos.

Sto. Tomas also mentioned emerging job markets in Europe, the United States, and Japan. A recent report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Washington indicated that the Philippines is emerging to be among the top choice for sourcing teachers for the US public school system. A new market for caregivers and nurses overseas is also expected to open opportunities for Filipino workers.

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