Filipino workers need socioemotional skills

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The government should integrate the development of socioemotional skills into the country’s educational and training framework to expand the employability of Filipino workers, the World Bank said in a new report.

The “Developing Socioemotional Skills for the Philippines Labor Market” report released on Thursday presented new evidence from employer and household surveys on the role of socioemotional skills — as well as more traditional cognitive and technical skills — in the Philippine labor market.

While a person’s ability to read, learn, think, remember and pay attention – “cognitive skills” – are important for moving ahead in life, good “socioemotional” or “behavioral skills” like grit, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, and decision-making skills are equally needed, the report stated.

“A rising share of firms reports having difficulty finding workers with appropriate socioemotional skills. Between 2009 and 2015, the share of firms that acknowledged having unfilled vacancies because of a lack of qualified candidates increased by about 30 percent,” it said.


The report said the share of Philippine firms that provide training had doubled in the past six years and 60 percent of those reported having provided employee training in the past year, well above the average for Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.

When Filipinos land jobs, those with good socioemotional or behavioral skills usually get better pay, particularly benefiting women, young workers, and less-educated employees. On average, higher levels of socioemotional skills command wages that are 10 percent higher than for workers with similar education but with less of these skills.

“Integrating behavioral skills in schools and vocational training will help the Philippines to be more competitive globally,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director, in a statement.

The report said that although the Philippines currently lagged other developing countries, lessons from the rest of the world could enable the country to rapidly integrate socioemotional skills into national educational and training systems.

Recommendations include early childhood development services that foster socioemotional skills development; revising curriculums to favor the development of positive attitudes and greater time for music, arts, physical education, health and values education; strengthening training of teachers to improve their competency in shaping students’ behavior; and integrating behavioral skills in regular training programs such as technical-vocational training courses provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“The behavioral skills necessary to succeed in the labor market must be taught throughout childhood. Schools are well placed to teach these skills,” said Pablo Acosta, World Bank senior economist specializing in social protection and jobs.

“Vocational counseling and apprenticeships can also help workers improve their behavioral skills and job prospects,” he added

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