MANILA — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Monday said half of the country’s unemployment could go down if youth employability is address to sooner by the government.
The labor chief expressed this view as the DOLE preparesfor the implementation of the JobStart Philippines program in four pilot areas this month.
Baldoz said JobStart is a partnership program of the DOLE, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) which aims to increase the employability of the youth by providing them access to technical and life skills training demanded by employers and by mentoring and tooling them to improve their job searches and outcomes.
The project will also finance vouchers that will enable some 1,600 youth-beneficiaries to gain work experience in companies through on-the-job training, she said.
Baldoz noted that youth unemployment, while it had decreased by 1.1 percent, or by 13,000–from 16.8 percent in April 2013 to 15.7 percent in April 2014–still accounts for almost half, or 49.8 percent, of the country’s total unemployed placed at 2.924 million.
There are 1.456 million unemployed youth as of April 2014, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority’s Labor Force Survey, accounting for 16 percent of the total youth labor force of 9.254 million. The youth belong to the 15-24 age bracket.
“The fact remains that youth unemployment rate is more than double the national unemployment rate and, therefore, is a challenge we all need to address,” Baldoz said.
She explained that through JobStart, youths-at risk aged 18-24 years of age, who are either currently not working, or has less than a year of work experience, and who are not enrolled in an educational or training program, or who have at least completed a high school education, can access technical and like skills training and on-the-job opportunities that will improve their chances in the world of work.
“JobStart’s objective is to raise the youth job placement rate to 80 percent from the current 60-65 percent rate,” Baldoz said.
The four areas chosen for the JobStart pilot program are Quezon City, with 900 allotted beneficiaries; Taguig City, 240; City of San Fernando, Pampanga, 360; and General Trias, Cavite, 100.
The DOLE had signed memorandum of understanding with the mayors of these four local government units (LGUs) to pilot the program and agreements with employers for internship slots. As of date, 74 employers have pledged internships for the youth beneficiaries in their companies.
In Quezon City, 11 companies offered 514 internship slots. Taguig City had 13 companies with 307 internship offers. In the city of San Fernando in Pampanga, 40 companies had offered 629 internship slots, and in General Trias in Cavite, 10 companies have slots for 215 interns.
“The agreements with private sector employers to take on beneficiaries as interns ensure that the process is employer-led. At the onset, a training plan is agreed upon between the JobStart team, the intern, and the employer. This plan will cover technical and life skills and on-the job training at the enterprises,” Baldoz said.
Under JobStart, the youth beneficiaries shall receive full-cycle employment facilitation services that include (1) Career Guidance and Coaching, to be provided by PESO staff and other trained career guidance coaches and advocates; (2) Life Skills training for eight days; (3) Technical skills training for up to three months; and (4) Company-based internships for up to six months.
Moreover, Baldoz bared that the interns will receive stipends of between P 200 to P 300 during their training and 75 percent of minimum wage during their six-month internship. On the other hand, employers will receive P 9,000 in training fee per intern they will accommodate.
“As the program involves employers as partners who will have the opportunity to demonstrate corporate social responsibility in the communities where they operate, I have directed Director Dominique Tutay of the Bureau of Local Employment to work with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) so that the JobStart Program can be readily replicated in other places outside of the pilot areas. They have to already identify employers and to consider financing the program from the DOLE’s regular budget, as well as the TESDA’s TWSP program budget,” Baldoz explained.
“The JobStart Program is a pivotal step in improving the youth employment situation in the country through the effective delivery of current labor market information, employment services, skills-jobs matching mechanisms, and other job search reforms,” she added.
She said the Philippines needs not just the support of international agency-partners, but also of local government units, especially the Public Employment Service Offices, or PESOs, to make the program an effective delivery mechanism of the government’s array of employment services.
“It will make accessible labor market information to more students–our future workers–especially in the regions,” she added.
For this purpose, the JobStart Program has established a monitoring and impact evaluation framework. All beneficiaries, and one non-beneficiary groups of similar qualifications will be tracked throughout the program and six months after its completion in July 2015 to assess if it has significantly improved the employability of the youth.
(To know more about the JobStart Philippines Program, you may visit the Bureau of Local Employment at 6th Flr., BF Condominium cor. Solana & Soriano St., Intramuros, or call at Tel. Nos.: (632) 528-0087 or 528-0108. Viewing of the JobStart Philippines Program AVP is also available upon request.).