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World Bank calls for interventions on Philippine jobs market

The World Bank has called for urgent interventions in the Philippine jobs market, as it found that worker productivity declined and youth workers remain vulnerable following the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report released Wednesday, the World Bank said the pandemic reversed some of the earlier progress, with the job quality remaining a concern particularly for the youth.

The report found that overall labor market indicators recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, while youth employment remained low.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, over 60% of the youth population or those aged between 15 and 24 was out of the labor force, with a higher poverty rate.

“The youth group was disproportionately affected by the pandemic shock on the labor market, and the scarring effect may stay long after the economic activities return,” World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Ndiamé Diop said.

“While conducive business environment policies will encourage quality job creation in the private sector, more targeted approaches to address youth challenges are urgently needed,” he added.

This comes as the youth were affected by the closure of schools, hitting their learning and school-to-work transition, with the looming scarring effect “of great concern.”

The latest data available from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) found that the youth labor force participation rate stood at 34.8% in January 2022, higher than the 32.0% in the same month last year.

The average hours worked per week, however, declined to 33.7 hours per week from the 39.1 hours recorded in January 2022.

The World Bank study also found that labor productivity declined to P109,358 in the second quarter of 2022, 12% down from P123,612 in the fourth quarter of 2019, as elementary occupations dominated during the period.

The World Bank said the recovery of industry sector activities and enhancing the productivity of the service sector will be critical to address this, along with the continued efforts to boost competitiveness and productivity.

“Active labor market programs including measures like skills training, job search assistance, wage subsidies, public works programs, and entrepreneurship promotion should be further strengthened,” Senior Economist Yoonyoung Cho said.

“These can be complemented by modernizing labor regulations through simplifying labor rules and providing guidance on flexible forms of work arrangement; expanding social insurance; and modernizing inspection and compliance verification systems through digital tools,” she added.

For its part, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said it is now in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to look into such concerns.

“This report will now be the anchor of skills… as far as emerging skills are concerned, and this will now become the basis of development of competency standards,” TESDA National Institute for Technical Education and Skills Development Executive Director David Bungallon said during the report launch.

“What we are doing now here is in order for these youth to become employable, given the trend now, they need the emerging digital and green skills. There is a need to integrate the green skills in the curriculum,” he added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News