Labor department focused on raising job quality as unemployment eases

Labor department focused on raising job quality as unemployment eases

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Tuesday said its efforts are currently focused on improving job quality, and pledged not to be complacent in the face of easing unemployment.

Preliminary results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Labor Force Survey for October show an 18-year low jobless rate of 4.2%.

“We are not complacent… The challenge to provide higher-quality jobs remains,” Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma told reporters in a briefing.

The underemployment rate — a measure of job quality — was at 11.7% in October, up from 10.7% in September. A year earlier the underemployment rate was 14.2%.

Mr. Laguesma said enhancing job quality involves ensuring fair wages and job tenure. “When we say ‘quality job,’ it includes more remunerative compensation and long-lasting employment,” he said.

He added that by making compensation and tenure more competitive, fewer workers would be compelled to seek employment overseas, reducing the social cost to workers who have had to leave their families behind.

At the same briefing, Assistant Secretary Paul Vincent W. Añover said that the department is looking at working with the industry and education sectors to enhance job quality and training.

“The numbers are good, but we will continue to emphasize the government-industry-education linkage and partnership to ensure the quality of training,” he said.

Mr. Laguesma said that updated training schemes for the workforce will help in mitigating the displacement resulting from emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“When there are changes in technological processes, there is a corresponding work displacement,” he said. “There are ongoing training initiatives so that those affected by the inevitable entry of AI can be equipped with new skills.”

Mr. Añover noted that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s recent overseas visits resulted in pledges for 305,000 “quality jobs.” He added that the IT-business process management (IT-BPM) industry continues to grow with 150,000 current job vacancies.

Apart from IT-BPM, the construction, health and wellness, and tourism industries are expected to provide additional employment opportunities, he said.

Mr. Laguesma noted that out of 16 regions, 14 have announced regional wage hikes. Eleven boards have also ordered adjustments in the monthly pay of domestic workers, he added. — Jomel R. Paguian