DAVAO CITY – The labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (May One Movement) said it finds it ironic that the labor department holds a jobs’ fair on Independence Day.
“We are supposed to commemorate our patriotism on June 12, but what is the labor department doing, they are hiring our workforce for other countries,” said KMU spokesperson for Mindanao Joel Maglunsod.
The Department of Labor and Employment Region 11 is holding its jobs fair on June 12 at the NCCC Mall to entice applicants for about 15,856 job vacancies abroad, including 1,000 vacancies for nurses in Saudi Arabia.
Maglunsod said the department’s job’s fair “only worsens the brain drain the country experiences”.
He cited a report from Migrante International that an average of 6,000 Filipinos leave the country in a day, and that adds up to the current 12 million Filipinos abroad in search for greener pastures.
“You add that 12 million OFWs with the 12 million unemployed, you get 25 million Filipinos or two-thirds of the country’s 39 million labor force out of work. That’s how bad things are,” said Maglunsod.
He also said more overseas workers would face the usual precarious situation of facing abuse from employers and abandonment in cases where conflict erupts.
He blames this on government’s labor-export policy as it brings in needed revenues for the country.
Gaspar Gayona, regional director of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said however, that the problem lies in jobs mismatch.
“There is a contrast in what are available jobs in the area versus the programs offered. Example, here in Davao 80 per cent of the courses we offered are ICT, but the bulk of job opportunities here are in agriculture,” Gayona said.
“Another problem is, we do have programs, but no schools would offer it to their students. Are there enough agricultural courses here?” he asked.
While TESDA aims to developed competent skills, Gayona said they cannot control the industries that pay low wages, thereby forcing workers to go abroad.
“We lost a truckload of machinist to Canada last year, that’s why DOST are training new machinists again. Our butchers, once they get certified, would be bound for Australia and New Zealand. Given that our students come from low income families, we can’t tell our students to stay here for three years,” he said.
Maglunsod said the problem is not just simply that.
“To think of it, Filipinos are smart and resilient, why blame the problem on mismatch?”
He said stopping the flight of workers, or the lack of jobs, goes back to the basics, as he points out that government lacks a blueprint for developing the agriculture sector and other industries to absorb the labor force.
Maglunsod also encourages workers and unemployed to troop to the streets on Independence Day to demand from government the “mandated” responsibility to provide employment, education and other services to the people.
“We have long been demanding for these economic reforms as the way to emancipate the people from poverty. Rather than lining up for jobs fair, let us fight for this right path.”