Oh, to be young and jobless
In a survey of more than 20,000 young interviewees from 20 countries, McCann Worldgroup Philippines found out that youngsters now tend to stay with their parents till age 30. In the past, when you turn 21, you’re “thrown out” of your parents’ house to live on your own.
We used to think of such milestones as college graduation, first job, getting married, first loan or mortgage, first car, second mortgage, first house, third mortgage, first travel abroad, etc. The McCann survey revealed that the youth today “put more emphasis on moments in their day-to-day existence: planning one’s own vacation, cooking for one’s self, or treating the family to dinner using one’s own money.”
Most of these moments are recorded in Instagram or Facebook. We used to have friends. Today’s youth have an “audience.”We used to pray before meals; today’s youth must take photos of the food first. During our time, adulthood just happened. McCann’s Gina Borromeo said, “Now it’s a choice you make on a daily basis.”
On December 10, 2016 (not in this paper), SWS reported that the unemployment rate among the Filipino youth (ages 18 to 24) has increased to 54.8 percent in September 2016.
But the government has a different employment data; the Philippine Statistics Authority says that of 8,531,000 youth, roughly 7,255,000 are employed as of end 2015. Unemployment rate is 15% or 1,276,000 million.
In the Human Capital Development forum on December 15, 2016 at the American Chamber of Commerce’s Human Capital Committee, Bureau of Local Employment Director Nikki Rubia-Tutay explained, “The challenge is no longer just the reduction of unemployment but … to ensure that our people get into quality jobs. Our reforms towards inclusiveness must focus on human capital development that enhances employability in sectors or markets seen to provide decent jobs. We give special attention to the youth segment of the PHL labor force.”
While local employment statistics have improved, Tutay further said, “The challenge remains – to reduce youth unemployment, reduce underemployment in agriculture, increase the number of large companies employing 200 or more workers, and increase the labor participation of women.”
In the same AMCHAM forum, Jose Rizal University President Dr. Vince Fabella underscored the need for greater industry-academe collaboration to address the serious job-skills mismatch.
Tutay said that both DOLE and NEDA have recommended to the President during the second Cabinet meeting several strategies to address the jobs challenge. She said, “Our economic policies should ease the entry of more foreign investments, improve the business climate by enhancing ease of doing business and industrial peace, and introduce flexible work arrangements. New laws allowing longer-term apprenticeship must be enacted. Focus should shift to income security rather than job security.”
“To address youth unemployment, DOLE is expanding the Government Internship Program to provide work experience to first-time jobseekers. There should be fuller implementation of Jobstart, a DOLE program aimed at providing training to the youth on technical and life skills.”
Tutay continues, “Skills are at the core of improving employment outcomes and increasing productivity and growth, going beyond years of education paradigm. However, there is little information about the distribution of different types of skills in the labor force and their distinctive contribution to labor market outcomes. Ultimately, the lack of information affects the design of skills development policies and programs.”
In a 2013 survey Dr. Fabella shared, “There is a marked difference between the perceptions of the youth about themselves and the perceptions of their bosses at the workplace. The millennials describe themselves as more people-savvy (65%) than tech-savvy (35%). Employers believe otherwise; to them the youth are more tech-savvy (85%) than people-savvy (14%). The youth today like to think they’re loyal to their employers (85%); this is the exact opposite of employers about youth loyalty (1%). The youth think that they are more hard-working (86%) and less fun-loving (14%), while only 11% of HR managers surveyed feel that today’s youth are less hardworking (11%) and more fun-loving (39%).”
In 1999, a survey of HR and Recruitment managers revealed that the top three competencies sorely lacking among applicants for entry-level jobs are critical thinking, communication skills, and initiative. Ten years later, another survey confirmed the same findings.
Here’s my take. Government, industry and academe must continue to work together to raise the skills of Filipinos to competitive levels. Let’s disabuse the parents’ minds that their children need college education to get a job. The youth must take the initiative to continually upscale their skills to qualify for decent jobs or start a small business. The new meaning of job security is one’s ability to perform a variety of jobs as he moves from one position, company, or country to another.
Absent that ability, today’s youth will end up as a NINJA- No Income, No Job or Assets.
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