Senate Majority Floor Leader Senator Joel Villanueva

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said that the country’s labor market must be ready for the 1.5 million individuals set to join the pool of Filipinos looking for work this year.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate in February 2023 remains unchanged since January this year at 4.8% or 2.47 million Filipinos. 

The Senator pointed out that with new entrants to the labor force, unemployment and underemployment would surely increase if no change to sluggish efforts on job generation and addressing gaps in school-to-work transition and persisting job-skills mismatch is done.

“Predictable po ang pagpasok at bilang ng mga bagong manggagawa sa labor force taon-taon pati na rin ang mga trabahong  nakadepende sa pagkakaroon ng mga okasyon at seasonal,” the former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief pointed out.

According to the latest PSA Labor Force Survey, the agriculture sector has 11.76 million employed persons, the industry sector has 7.95 million employed persons and the services sector has 29.08 million employed persons.

“We have to assist agri-fishing, manufacturing, and other sectors to create new and sustainable jobs, address issues on school-to-work transition and ensure industry-relevant skills and core skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration,” Villanueva explained.

More is needed in job generation from all agencies if we want to step-up from cyclical unemployment.

Last month, the Majority Leader sponsored Senate Bill 2035 or Trabaho Para sa Bayan (TPB) Plan, which seeks to create a comprehensive employment generation and recovery masterplan.

Villanueva said the TPB, which is included in the priority measures of the Marcos administration, aims to:

1. Stimulate national and local economic growth and development through aligning investment and other incentives provided by law for the creation of more jobs, which shall address many challenges in the labor market;

2. Promote the employability, competitiveness, wellness, and productivity of workers through efficient, effective, and timely delivery of industry-relevant skills training and enhancement programs, reintegration pathways, active labor market activities, and other services;

3. Provide support and incentives to existing and emerging businesses, specifically micro small and medium enterprises, including enhanced access to finance and capital; and,

4. Incentivize employers, industry stakeholders, and other private sector organizations that offer training, technology, knowledge and skills transfer, upskilling and reskilling, and enterprise-based training.

“We have to be proactive in finding solutions especially when it comes to easing unemployment in the country,” Villanueva said.