2.4M skilled jobs in PH feared to remain unfilled
MANILA, Philippines — The country faces a postpandemic skills and employment gap that may leave 2.4 million skilled jobs vacant and unfilled if there are no significant reforms in education and training of workers.
House ways and means chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda issued the warning as he pressed policymakers to implement reforms in training and education to meet the needs of new and emerging businesses.
In his report entitled, “The coming skills and employment gap and the case for education and training reform,” he estimated that some 2.4 million skilled and well-paid jobs, or 6 percent of the labor force, would be left unfilled in the next decade “if education and training systems are not improved meaningfully.”
Salceda added that least 20 million new and existing workers would have to be trained, retrained and retooled to keep the skilled worker supply-demand equilibrium.
In a statement, he warned that many jobs lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic “will not return simply because there will no longer be any need for them, even if businesses recover.”
“We’ve all moved online. Expect painful permanent shrinkages in the low-skill service sector, and a drag in real wages due to the oversupply of unskilled work, unless we are willing to make meaningful policy changes now,” Salceda said.
He added: “The bottom line of my report is we need to prepare the workforce for a new economy. Our current education and training system, where we place value on diplomas and not skills, will just not do.”
Adapt to change
Salceda said the new formula for new training and education systems should be a combination of access, quality and adaptability.
“We have to train as many Filipinos as possible to be very highly skilled workers who can also very quickly adapt to new changes in industries,” he said.
If significant reforms are not made now, the country faces a situation in which “unskilled workers cannot find jobs, while jobs requiring skills cannot be filled with workers.”
“This will be a silent crisis because it will only make itself seen gradually and in the households whose workers cannot find jobs and in the businesses where skilled jobs remain unfilled. In the aggregate, however, it will definitely bog us down,” Salceda said.
He cited growth in the business process outsourcing sector, which is projected to grow by 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent annually within the next three years.
“Without a reliable stream of well-trained talent for these growing industries, however, they will eventually move to our competitors in India, Pakistan, and even increasingly, Vietnam,” he said.
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