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The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report shows the country’s overall unemployment rate fell from 6.6% in January 2017 to a low of 5.3% in January 2018. However, unemployment in the Philippines remains the highest among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This reflects the fact that the 2.4 million jobs generated last year were not enough to keep pace with the labor force. In addition, the International Labour Organization said the country will still be among the top contributors of youth unemployment in the region given that almost half (43.2%) of unemployed persons were from the 15-24 age group. Despite rapid economic growth in the Philippines, youth unemployment remains high and employment quality a serious cause for concern.
One of the main causes is the unavailability of jobs provided. Millions need jobs but only few can be able to have one, due to the fast growing rate of the population. The Asian Development Bank said the number of jobs generated each year falls short of what is needed to both absorb new entrants into the labor force and the unemployed. For this reason, the government should play a role in job creation by creating more infrastructure projects, improving services and reducing corruption. This will improve the investment climate and engagement to private sectors.
Other factors include job skills mismatch in the labor market, a lack of labor market information available to young people, and insufficient employment services for at-risk youth.Skills mismatch is further intensified by poor education system. The quality of education is necessary to complement labor market needs. Many jobs demand levels of education young people have not yet achieved. That’s why there should be an available opportunities for all the students to accumulate direct work experience while studying, to better prepare them for employment. It’s like giving them more time to develop skills, which makes them more productive and more valuable to employers. ADB also said improving the relevance and quality of technical and vocational training programs and strengthening certification frameworks will help overcome such mismatches.
Now, the access to labor market information has improved with the help of technology. There are lots of online job portals that connect prospective employees with potential employers. It provide easier access to a wide array of jobs in different sectors. However, ADB noted that many of the youth are from low-income households with limited social networks. So the government should collaborate with private sectors to put up job centers especially to remote areas to provide a full range of assistance.
Youth unemployment is not just our problem, the ILO, in its Global Employment Trends for Youth, reported that there were 70.9 million unemployed youth and expected to rise after a number of years of improvement. This is a huge challenge that can only be tackled by innovative policies but what we need the most is greater collaboration among private sectors, governments and society.
Young people are the engine of the future. If they are not able to connect to the labor market, a significant amount of human potential goes wasted.
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