The rapid economic expansion of the Philippines is generating jobs at an unprecedented pace. For example, many jobs in the construction and tourism sectors remain unfilled to this day because of the shortage of workers.
While the Philippines remains a net exporter of labor, its domestic requirement for skilled workers is also rising fast, given the expansion of several sectors such as business process outsourcing, information technology, manufacturing, real estate, infrastructure, education, healthcare, retail, tourism, and others.
Housing developers and construction companies now compete with one another to recruit the best skilled workers amid the rush to build new condominiums, subdivisions, office towers, shopping malls, hotels and resorts as well as infrastructure projects under the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.
Given the strong demand for construction workers, these highly skilled workers and laborers receive salaries above the minimum wage. Countries in the Middle East, which are building new cities, also prefer skilled Filipino workers.
Globally, Filipinos are known in the hospitality and shipping industries. You would most likely meet Filipino receptionists at hotels in Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong or Dubai, Filipino flight crew at Qatar Airways or Filipino staff aboard Caribbean and Mediterranean cruise ships.
Locally, the completion of new hotels, resorts, spas, and other leisure establishments have opened job opportunities for thousands of Filipinos. I believe that with proper education and skills training, every Filipino can find a job or a productive endeavor under the current economic condition, where the gross domestic product grows at least 6 percent annually.
There is no doubt that the employment situation is much better today than in the previous years. In its first Southeast Asia Online Recruitment Trends Report, job website Monster.com noted that the overall job market activity was positive throughout 2017, and the Philippines maintains a positive outlook for online hiring in 2018.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that unemployment rate declined to 5.5 percent in April 2018 from 5.7 percent in the same period last year, as more Filipinos found jobs during the period.
This figure was the lowest jobless rate for all the April rounds of the Labor Force Survey in the past decade, according to the PSA. About 40.9 million Filipinos were employed as of April 2018, following a net employment generation of 625,000 over the preceding 12 months.
The National Economic and Development Authority traced the growth in employment to “increased infrastructure spending as the Department of Public Works and Highways’ road projects and rehabilitation of public school facilities are already underway nationwide.”
The construction sector was the biggest employment contributor, generating 468,000 jobs, as the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program takes off.
Under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the government aims to bring down the unemployment rate to 4.7 percent in 2018 and to 4.3 percent in 2019.
I think this is possible if we properly train our young people to meet the needs of different industries. The growth of the agriculture sector will also be crucial, because this sector accounts for 23.9 percent of the labor force. This means that more than 9.5 million Filipinos rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Finally, I believe that the ultimate solution to the unemployment problem is entrepreneurship. If we help the unemployed and the underemployed become entrepreneurs, this nation will surely grow faster and soon join the ranks of the upper-middle income economies.