Jobs for youth to power Philippines economic recovery

The Philippines will need to generate more and better quality jobs for the youth for stronger economic recovery and long-term growth, according to the World Bank.

The Philippines will need to generate more and better quality jobs for the youth for stronger economic recovery and long-term growth, according to the World Bank.

In its Philippine Jobs Report: Shaping A Better Future for the Filipino Workforce launched Wednesday, the multilateral lender said prior to the pandemic, the country’s job market thrived, with the economy adding an average of approximately 550,000 new jobs annually since 2010, indicating a faster employment growth rate of 1.7 percent per year than that of individuals working and searching for jobs at 1.4 percent per year.

Lockdowns and declining business confidence amid the pandemic, however, led to unprecedented job and income losses.

While employment indicators appear to have returned to pre-pandemic levels following the easing of mobility restrictions and the rebound of the economy, the World Bank said the quality of jobs remain a concern particularly for young people.

“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,” Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines 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 said.

World Bank senior economist Yoonyoung Cho said the Filipino youth group, which covers those who are 15 to 24 years old, was already significantly disadvantaged even prior to the pandemic with over 60 percent out of the labor force in 2019.

She said the unemployment rate and working poverty rates were also higher for the youth group than others.

“The Philippine youth group are unfortunately experiencing multiple crises all at the same time: learning due to school closure, employment and poverty challenges,” she said.

Given these challenges, the World Bank said it is important to provide targeted support to the youth, while promoting overall job creation in the country.

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

As international migration will continue to be a major source of jobs and incomes, the World Bank said utilizing overseas employment opportunities while ensuring the welfare and safety of migrant workers remains critical.

The World Bank said emerging areas of green and digital jobs are also expected to provide opportunities for the youth.

To benefit from these trends, the World Bank recommends operationalizing the Philippines Green Jobs Act of 2016, which provides relevant incentives for firms engaged in green activities and generating green jobs.

Other measures being pushed by the World Bank are having targeted skills development for youth that include green and digital skills; economic zones for green and digital job creation; and social protection for the digital workforce.

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