WTF about job security?
Filipinos are among the most highly connected people on Earth. They are also the most enamored with job security, despite social media’s proclamation to high heavens that JOB SECURITY IS DEAD. So, what’s the fuss (WTF) about job security?
Job vs income security
Job security assures you of a regular job now and for the foreseeable future. Your job gives you income, health insurance and other benefits, plus self-esteem, reputation and standing in the community. People want job security because it guarantees them income as long as they’re in somebody’s payroll, whether they actually work or not. With job security, one doesn’t have to worry where the food on the table will come from – there’s a cornucopia called payroll. Competition, increasing energy cost, taxes, lack of infrastructure, and difficulty of doing business are not concerns of an employee with job security; his only concern is to stay in the payroll. The rank and file is the most highly protected specie in this part of the world, more than the Philippine eagle, tarsier, or the whale shark.
Income security means you have a stream of income. The minimum wage is not intended to raise a family of five. You don’t rely on one source alone – job, investment, or business. If one source fails, you create and maintain other sources. Then you have a portfolio. Most people say that this is only for the rich. I say that the poor can be rich if they have income security. This, however, requires a lot of personal initiative, continuous development of skills needed to make money, and a realization that this world doesn’t have an obligation to feed you. He who shall not work, shall not eat. It is similar to meritocracy.
When job security around the world is dead or dying, one should now focus on income security. But wait, in a highly populist environment, you can force government to kill meritocracy and perpetuate job security, even if it means going against the global current. Here are surefire ways:
Increase wages across the board. This will surely kill personal initiative and distort the value of jobs in the market. Minimum wages are meant to protect the unskilled and uneducated from rent-seeking businessmen who scrimp on wages. But when the minimum daily wage is unreasonably high ($10 compared to $5 in other ASEAN countries), investments and jobs will tend to seek more attractive destinations. In the Philippines, when a businessman has to pay more than P500 in wages and benefits for unskilled labor, he will not hire the unskilled or uneducated. For that amount, he can choose from the millions of jobless college graduates who can do multi-tasking. Pegging legal minimum wages too high has adverse consequences to the sector the government wants to protect.
Make all forms of employment regular. Today, companies hire regular workers in whom the core competencies reside. The rest of the work directly related to the business is either outsourced or contracted out. When you limit the businessman’s capacity to farm out work to 40% (of total employee population), that’s interference against management prerogatives guaranteed by law. I often sound like a voice in the wilderness saying, “Let us enhance the protection of workers’ rights, but never restrict the prerogatives of businessmen who create the jobs.” I say this, especially now that the law on job contracting has not changed, nor contemplates a cap to what can be contracted out. It’s ultra vires, as my lawyer friends would say.
Legislating high wages and regular employment can be done without thinking. But if you want to help Filipinos become more globally competitive, government can also:
Make education and training more affordable and accessible. Government is right in giving the biggest slice of National Budget to education, because human resources development is a major initiative for global competitiveness. But, teachers must stop teaching what they learned when they were students. Task the industry and academe to work together to develop 21st century skills.
Teach Financial Literacy. Many Filipinos are poor due to lack of financial literacy. The youth spend beyond their means and get loans at the slightest provocation. They think that gadgets and appliances that take money out of their pockets are assets instead of liabilities – cars, condos, cellular phones and other C’s.
Encourage apprenticeship or dual training. War-torn Germany was rebuilt with apprenticeship. Thailand has a robust car manufacturing industry because of apprenticeship. When Philippine manufacturing contribution to GDP is low, it’s time to prioritize apprenticeship or dual training. What’s a college diploma if you’re a NINJA (No Income, No Job or Asset)?
Encourage entrepreneurship. Teach, mentor, encourage, and fund the youth who have entrepreneurial knack. Stop giving A’s to Entrepreneurship students who only memorize concepts. Flunk them if they cannot run a business.
In an era where job security is dead, what are you doing – a) wishing job security were here, b) switching to income security, or c) doing nothing? Take charge of your life. Now.
(Email: erniececilia@gmail. com)
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