Solon: Upskill, reskill Filipinos for better job opportunities

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Thursday cited the need for the government to step up efforts to reskill and upskill Filipinos to give them wider employment opportunities. Villanueva's statement was in reaction to the report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) during the briefing of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) for the proposed 2024 budget, which said there is a big mismatch between what the educational institutions are producing and the employment opportunities from fast-evolving sectors associated with digital technology and green economy. The NEDA report emphasized the need to ensure the employability of workers especially in creating opportunities for high quality jobs. Villanueva welcomed the PHP9.18 billion allocation for programs on "increasing employability" lodged in the new appropriations. This includes the Government Internship Program, Special Program for Students, Jobstart Philippines, Supporting Innovation in the Philippine Technical and Vocational Education and Training System, Special Training for Employment Program, Training for Work Scholarship Program and Tulong Trabaho Scholarship Program. "This is exactly why we need a reskilling and upskilling revolution to have a competitive and resilient workforce for the 4th Industrial Revolution so that our people will have a better shot at sustainable and quality employment," Villanueva said in a statement. Upskilling involves adding or scaling up one's skills, while reskilling has to do with retraining one in a new area. Villanueva said the proposed interventions for upskilling and reskilling will go through thorough scrutiny during the deliberation of the budget of departments. "We want to know the specific training or courses in the programs, the number of beneficiaries and the extent to which these programs will help achieve the target (of) 4.4 percent to 4.7 percent employment rate in 2024," he said. He said the volatility of the unemployment rate is affected by notorious seasonal jobs, adding that the country's unemployment rate is "usually low during peak seasons like Christmas season, then unemployment increases after. This is evident in the agriculture and tourism sectors." He also noted that there is a significant decrease in the unemployment rate from 5.3 percent in August 2022 to 4.3 percent in December 2022. Based on the 2022 International Monetary Fund data, the unemployment rate in Thailand is at 1 percent, 2.1 percent in Singapore, 2.4 percent in Vietnam and 3.6 percent in Malaysia. "Compared to our ASEAN counterparts, we are lagging behind when it comes to employability and creating quality jobs which is why we need to implement a National Employment Masterplan to identify the needs of the labor sector," Villanueva said. Senate Bill No. 2035 or the Trabaho Para Sa Bayan Act creates a comprehensive employment masterplan, which will synergize the government's efforts in addressing the country's employment challenges - including the generation of quality jobs and opportunities for all, as well as the issue of job-skills mismatch. The bill was passed on 3rd reading in the Senate last May 2023.

Source: Philippines News Agency