MANILA — The Philippines needs to strengthen behavioral skills of its workforce to achieve employability and compete in the global economy, the World Bank (WB) said.
The WB made the recommendation following the release Thursday of a study titled “Developing Socioemotional Skills for the Philippines Labor Market” indicating that cognitive and socioemotional or behavioral skills are equally important for achieving employability.
Behavioral skills include grit, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability and decision-making skills.
“When Filipinos land jobs, those with good socioemotional or behavioral skills usually get better pay, particularly benefitting women, young workers, and less-educated workers. On average, higher levels of socioemotional skills command wages that are 10 percent higher than for workers with similar education but possess less of these behavioral skills,” it said.
The study, part of a household survey initiative under the international umbrella program Skills for Employability and Productivity (STEP), revealed that the number of Philippine firms reporting inadequate workforce skills rose by 30 percent in the past six years.
Two-thirds of employers or companies report difficulty finding workers with an adequate work ethic or appropriate interpersonal and communication skills. An increasing number of firms resort to in-house training in order to improve behavioral skills.
It also cited emerging international evidence suggesting that socioeconomic skills are increasingly crucial to the types of jobs being created by the global economy.
To squarely address this issue, the study called on the Philippines to build on the impressive reforms it has undertaken to successfully focus on fostering socioemotional skills.
It underscored the need to embed socioemotional skills in the curricula of the extended compulsory education from kindergarten to grade 12 by explicitly stating goals and targets and by preparing the teachers for effective delivery of content.
The report added the country should also mainstream socioemotional skills in regular training programs after undertaking a proper assessment of current delivery performance and impact.
These programs include the JobStart Philippines Program and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s technical-vocational training.
“Coordinated policies and efforts between the government agencies and private sector are the keys to the success for fostering skills development and growth of the country’s workforce,” said Mara Warwick, WB Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. (PNA)