In today’s economy, education is the single best bet we have against unemployment. But we definitely have to take a better, more rigorous approach to education and technical training. It has to be the right kind of education and training, those that can really fill the jobs and meet the demands of industries where jobs are much available.
Government statistics show that college graduates comprise 23.2 percent of the unemployed Filipinos as of July 2014. This is easily one-fifth of the labor force.
Many of the unproductive college graduates completed oversubscribed courses such as tourism, hotel and restaurant management, nursing and information technology.
Many of these graduates cannot afford to go back to school to get retrained for the jobs in the industries that are hiring.
So perhaps the government could offer or increase financial aid packages for the unemployed so they can enroll in educational and training programs. So they can get trained for jobs that are actually available.
Even the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) has said that the lack of skills is making a lot of our college graduates difficult to employ. And they are not merely talking about oversubscribed courses.
In a recent forum on jobless growth, Ecop Assistant Treasurer Lucy Tarriela complained about the “copy-paste” frame of mind of many young Filipinos.
Tarriela said that because everything is available online or can easily be accessed elsewhere, graduates no longer use their analytical skills to process information and find solutions to problems.
She said Ecop is worried because more companies are complaining about their difficulties of finding and hiring qualified workers among the new graduates, despite so many of them applying for jobs.
She said a lot of students these days have become accustomed to everything instant. They do not know how to analyze. They only “copy-paste.”
She added that apart from the lack of analytical skills, young professionals do not have the necessary skills to carry out their job. They also lack the devotion to their work, as well as the commitment and loyalty to stay in a company.
College education should have prepared them for work but unfortunately it did not.
What is the government doing to address these and other policy gaps in our education system?
If we are to bring down unemployment and address jobless growth the government needs to ensure better coordination between the industries and our education system. It needs to help evolve the appropriate skill development framework among our graduates.
The National Competitiveness Council estimates that the country has to create three to four million jobs every year to bridge the unemployment gap and bring the nation to newly industrialized status.
We need sound, aggressive and actionable strategies to propel jobs growth in an orderly manner and remove hurdles to full employment.
While the Aquino administration keeps bragging about the country’s economic growth, it has failed to tackle the mounting problem of unemployment and underemployment, especially among the youth.
As such, this so-called economic growth has not been able to provide jobs to the rapidly increasing work force.