Many jobs, many job seekers, too few job-skill matches

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Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz: Online consultation. FILE PHOTO/Jay Morales/Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines—Marlyn Alcera has long been trying her luck to find a better-paying job. On Wednesday, her perseverance finally paid off, after having to queue since 6 a.m. to get into the job fair organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) at a Pasay City Mall finally paid off.

The 22-year-old Alcera, who came with two of her friends at the job fair, said at least two companies hired her on the spot on Wednesday. Her friends, however, were not as lucky as her.

Alcera said she was offered jobs as sales clerk and cashier at two different companies.

“I’m very happy. I’ve long been wanting to explore other opportunities,” Alcera, who used to work as an assistant secretary at the computer school where she finished her two-year computer secretarial course.

She said she would have wanted to land in a job related to her course. “But for now, this will do,” she said, adding that she badly needed a job so she could help support her family.

Alcera was among the 1,274 applicants hired on the spot in the DoLE’s Labor Day job and livelihood fairs nationwide.

The DoLE reported that another 1,132 applicants were hired on the spot in the pre-Labor Day Jobs Fair held in Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac City last April 30.

However, these numbers are still low considering that a total of 36,765 registered applicants showed up at the job fairs where more than 400,000 jobs were available.

For the past years, many vacancies had not been filled mainly because of the job applicants’ lack of skills required in the industry. And DoLE said the government has been trying to address this problem.

“The challenge for our workforce is to equip themselves continuously with skills that will make them move from one job to another. In a way, what is being secured is employment, not necessarily security of tenure,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

There were several applicants who were turned down by the employer because their course was not related to the position they were applying for.

One of them, a 24-year-old former promo merchandiser at a mall, said he would have wanted to use his knowledge in Information Technology but his application was turned down.

“I was told I need to get additional training before they could hire me. My two-year course apparently is not enough to fill the job,” he said.

Another applicant, Marlon Endaya, 30, who works as a cook in a restaurant, said he was rejected by the employer because he was too old for the job.

“If I were the employer, I would not be very particular whether or not the applicant has a diploma or where he or she graduated from. I will be after the skills on how they do their job, how do they relate with their superiors and co-workers. It’s a demonstration of what you know and how you relate with others, that is the soft skill side qualifying for a job,” said Baldoz.

“But of course, if there are oversupply of applicants, the employers have more choices. They still want workers with a four-degree course, at the same time very articulate, with pleasing personality and positive attitude and possess the skills on how to do the job, that’s an add on,” Baldoz said.

Like Endaya, some of the applicants were not necessarily jobless but were only looking for better-paying jobs.

“That’s a good signal for the market. Normally, you want to maximize your capacity to work, and your capacity to earn. If these applicants succeed in landing a job, then they leave their job vacant and new one comes in. That makes the market more dynamic,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz also said that she instructed officials of DoLE and its attached agencies to give the job applicants access to all vacancies and get interviewed.

“So that these applicants would know whether they would qualify or not. And I assure them that if it’s training that is lacking, then the Tesda would take care of that for free through the training for work scholarship,” Baldoz added.

The labor chief said the number of hired applicants could still increase as the figure they release were only based on records as of 12 noon on Wednesday

Citing initial reports reaching her, job applicants appeared at more than 70 government-backed job fairs nationwide.

“This is the first preliminary report. Normally we monitor until one month after the jobs fair are over because of the near hires, those who will be subjected for further interviews. We have to get the accurate figure at the end of the jobs fair for the month of May,” she said.

As of 12 noon on Wednesday, at least 177 were nearly hired but were referred to the Technical Education and Skills Authority for training and there were about 3,340 who were called for further interview.

The job vacancies range from managerial and professional, to technical, skilled and unskilled categories and were offered by “participating employers in the business process outsourcing, tourism, banking and finance, hotel and restaurant, health and wellness and construction sectors.”

“Topping the list is still the BPO sector, they are still the top generating job industry,” said Baldoz.

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