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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Growth in employment boosts economy, over-all welfare of Filipinos

Last of a three-part series

The Philippines' employment situation posted growth this year both at the
local and overseas fronts, reflecting an economy that has surpassed earlier
expectations of a negative growth and continued instead to sustain and
promote the welfare of the Filipinos.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that in the midst of
the global economic slowdown, employment in the country continued to grow in
2009. Citing the labor force survey (LFS) of the National Statistics Office
, he said that the number of employed persons in the country grew by 2.7%
from 34.533 million in October 2008 to 35.477 million in the same period
this year.

The data indicate that despite the global crisis, the economy still managed
to generate nearly a million jobs (+944,000), the DOLE Chief said noting
that the government was on the right track in the implementation of the
resiliency program that focused on employment generation and preservation as
a strategy in enabling the people cope with the crisis.

Aside from OFWs whose remittances continue to shore up the economy, the
additional employed persons have gained incomes to also contribute to demand
which sustains the economy, Roque said.

The resiliency program, which was launched by President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo early in 2009, helped the people cope with the impact of the global
economic recession which resulted in the country's attainment of a modest
economic growth this year.

The Labor and Employment Secretary said the resiliency program particularly
its components geared at promoting and preserving the employment of workers
was crucial in enabling the country to achieve growth, which is an
indication that the state of the nation in terms of the over-all welfare of
the people pulled off an improvement despite external threats brought about
by the global crisis.

He said the employment growth indicates that the government has succeeded in
promoting the people's welfare particularly in helping them cope with the
adverse effects of the crisis through the provision of employment and
livelihood services such as local and overseas employment facilitation,
livelihood loans and grants, emergency employment, and skills training and

Citing a leading financial institution, the Goldman Sachs, Roque also said
the country's economic performance in the wake of the global crisis has
surprisingly exceeded expectations. He also noted that the Philippines was
considered a "winner" in terms of displaying remarkable resiliency and
achieving an impressive rebound in growth this year.

Earlier, the Asian Development Bank said that the global crisis had little
impact on the economy and employment in the country. It cited the
Philippine government's efforts in buttressing the country's capability to
cope with the adverse effects of the crisis.

OFWs' contribution to local employment growth

The LFS showed that the top growth employment contributor was the wholesale
and retail trade sector with almost 7 million workers employed in the sector
in October 2009, up by 370,000 from the number of employed workers in this
sector in October 2008.

Roque attributed the employment growth in the said sector to OFWs
remittances which have been shoring up in large part household consumption
that in turn nourishes the wholesale and retail trade.

He said the OFWs have cushioned the impact of the global crisis and saved
the country from recession.

The other sectors with substantial number of employed persons were
transport, storage and communications (2.735 million); private households
with employed persons (1.9 million); public administration and defense,
compulsory social security (1.774 million); and real estate, renting and
business activities (1.105 million).

The Labor and Employment Secretary said the DOLE relentlessly pursued
employment efforts to facilitate workers and jobs matching. It conducted
nationwide job fairs, notably the May 1 Jobapalooza job fair and the
three-day June 12 Independence job fair that offered hundreds of thousands
of jobs to jobseekers.

Jobs, skills mismatch

The DOLE Chief, nonetheless, acknowledged that the additional jobs generated
were lower than the 1.14 million young workers who have entered the labor
force this year.

He said many of the new entrants to the labor force do not meet the skills
requirements of industry, noting that in the midst of the weak global
environment, there are still establishments in the country such as call
centers, BPOs, and firms in need of accountants, engineers, IT specialists,
skilled workers, and other in-demand jobs which have difficulties filling
up vacancies.

He cited data from culled from DOLE regional offices which showed that the
national network of Public Employment Services Offices (PESOs) solicited a
total of 1.356 million jobs from January to November this year.

He said that out of over a million applicants who registered with PESOs,
about 771,956 were referred for job placement while 176,949 were referred
for skills training. Only 276,016 job applicants landed jobs in the private
sector. Another 22,691 were hired in the government sector.

To address the problem, he said the DOLE will soon come up with a Jobs Fit
road map that would identify the preferred skills needed by emerging
industries or employment drivers. The road map, he said, would guide
educational institutions on the kind of appropriate courses that should be
offered to students to enable them land industry jobs upon graduation.

The Overseas Front

Defying earlier prediction of a lower OFWs deployment as a result of the
global crisis, data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA) showed that OFWs who have left the country for overseas employment on
the contrary even grew by 11.7% from 1.149 million in November 2008 to 1.284
million in the same period this year.

Roque said OFWs deployment was buoyed up by demand in traditional markets
like the Gulf countries in the Middle East that have taken concrete steps to
cushion the impact of the crisis. This was complemented, he added, by demand
for OFWs in emerging markets such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Macau,
and parts of Europe.

As a result OFWs remittances jumped by 8.6 percent to $1.4 billion in
September this year as compared to the same month last year. In view of
this, the Central Bank has revised its earlier prediction of a zero growth
in remittances. It is expecting a four percent growth in remittances for
the whole of 2009 to a record level of $17.1 billion from last year's $16.2

Expectedly, the major remittance sources were Saudi Arabia and United Arab
Emirates in the Middle East, the US and Canada in North America, the United
Kingdom, Italy and Germany in Europe and Japan and Singapore in Asia.

Prospects in 2010

Roque said the employment prospects in 2010 would be brighter as nations hit
by the crisis are expected to recover. The global rebound, he said, would
stimulate international trade which in turn would be beneficial to growth of
the local economy and subsequently local employment.

He said that local employment prospects in 2010 in traditional sectors such
as wholesale, retail, and services and sunshine industries such as call
centers, BPOs, and animation, would be complemented by jobs that would be
generated in new industries such as renewable energy, green industries, ICT,
science, and innovative technologies. He said the new industries would be
the focus of investments under the reloading economic acceleration program
or the new resiliency program that the government would implement next year
in a bid to take advantage of the expected global rebound.

Overseas, Roque said the global labor market will continue to offer
employment opportunities to OFWs, particularly skilled workers and
professionals in various industries. He said the key employment generators
for OFWs in the global labor market in the next 5-10 years will include the
following: healthcare, building and construction, petroleum/oil and
gas/energy, tourism/hotel and restaurant and gaming industry, IT/cyber
services, manufacturing, electronics, metals, transport, education,
seafaring, communications, and water and environment.

Middle East countries particularly Saudi Arabia will continue to be the top
OFWs destination as the Kingdom is set to develop 12 mega industrial and
economic cities in the next 15 years. Other countries in the region bent on
pursuing their development plans such as the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and
Libya are also expected to continue hiring OFWs in 2010. In Asia, job
prospects for OFWs will be in Brunei, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia,
Singapore, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Europe faces a labor shortage due to
ageing population and, thus, intends to facilitate entry of high skilled
foreign workers to prop up its declining workforces. This continent is
projected to hire skilled and professional OFWs especially in the
healthcare, IT, engineering, and services sectors.

The demand for Filipino seafarers is expected to continue over the next
decade given the increasing number of vessels which are becoming larger and
specialized. However, the country faces shortage of officers and surplus of
ratings which is consistent with global trends. Thus, the challenge is to
produce more officers to take advantage of the global demand and maintain
the country's status as the crewing capital of the world.

OFW Journalism Consortium

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