Long lines marked the job fair organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Public Employment and Services Office (Peso) on Wednesday at SM Megamall on Edsa in Mandaluyong City.
The event was part of some 70 job fairs held in 16 regions on May 1 for more than 400,000 jobs openings in the country and abroad.
Citing reports reaching her, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said applicants swarmed the job fairs nationwide.
At SM Megamall, hundreds of people had begun lining up to be among the first to apply for a position at 10 a.m., the time the doors of the mall were to open and the start of the job fair.
Peso head Emma Javier said the number of registered applicants at SM Megamall had reached 612 before 11 a.m. By noon, the number of registered applicants had ballooned to more than 1,000, she said. Police placed at 2,000 the number of hopeful registrants still queuing at the time.
Most of the applicants, 18 to 30 years old, looked for a job as service workers (fast-food crew or sales representatives), clerks (pharmacy assistants, call center agents and others) and as unskilled workers (janitor or messenger), Javier said.
The “smaller percentage,” she said, was distributed among the positions for skilled workers, managers, professionals and associate professionals.
“Even those with a degree prefer to apply for a service crew position because they say it’s easier to get hired,” Javier said, noting that she encountered five people as of noon who had done so.
She said the number of participants was “overwhelming.” Participants poured in by late afternoon last year, “[but] this year, they were already lined up since this morning,” she said.
The number of local job vacancies—ranging from managerial to unskilled positions—stood at 6,619 and overseas ones at 1,400, Javier said.
The vacancies, however, were contractual in nature with two-year contracts offered by six overseas potential employers, she said.
If hired, registrants could be deployed to Canada, Kuwait and other countries as head waiters and engineers, Javier said.
Fifty-five local companies, she said, offered six-month contracts.
Mark Sierra, who was seated on the stair landing when approached by the Inquirer, said the process was “pretty fast.” But he said the jobs offered were contractual. “The government should take that out already,” he said.
Hired, not hired
At the job fair in Pasay City Mall, Marlyn Alcera, 22, joined the queue at 6 a.m.
Alcera, who came with two of her friends, said at least two companies hired her on the spot. Her friends, however, were not as lucky. She said she was offered to work as sales clerk and cashier in 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 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 on Labor Day in the job and livelihood fairs nationwide. This was apart from the 1,132 applicants who were hired on the spot in the pre-Labor Day Jobs Fair in Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac City on April 30.
Many vacancies unfilled
However, this number was still low considering that there were 36,765 registered applicants and there were more than 400,000 jobs available.
Over the past years, many vacancies have not been filled mainly because the job applicants lacked the required skills.
“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,” Baldoz said.
Several applicants were turned down by an employer because their course was not related to the position they were applying for. One of them, a 24-year-old former promo mechandiser 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 overage.
Like Endaya, some of the applicants were not necessarily jobless but were only looking for better-paying jobs.
In Tacloban City, close to 1,000 job-seekers from different parts of Eastern Visayas trooped to the convention center.
One of them was Irene Fevidal, 30, a domestic helper in Kuwait from August 2011 to June 2012. Fevidal is a trainee in a laundry shop receiving a P120 daily wage, which is way below the regional minimum wage of P260.
“I want a job that offers better pay than what I earn now,” Fevidal said, as she was filling out five application letters, which she would submit to employers like an IT company seeking data encoders, a hotel in need of housekeeping personnel and an office looking for administrative staff. She also submitted an application for a possible overseas work.
Cyril Ticao, assistant director for DOLE Eastern Visayas, said 34 local establishments and five recruitment agencies for overseas work took part in the regional job fair, which was looking for employees to fill 2,000 job vacancies.
DOLE Central Visayas also held job fairs in SM malls in Cebu City and Consolacion town, Cebu. RJ Leduna, SM senior public relations manager, said more than 2,000 applicants went to SM Cebu City on Wednesday morning for the job fair, where 52 local firms took part.
Northern Cebu, Davao
Leduna said at least 4,000 jobs were available at the SM Cebu City mall.
A total of 1,500 jobs were available at the job fair at SM City in Consolacion town, northern Cebu, which was participated in by 20 local companies. The Danao City-based Cebu Mitsumi Inc. reportedly wanted to hire 500 workers on the spot.
At the fair in Davao City, Fatima Feliciano was drawn toward companies hiring tellers, finance officers, human resources assistants and other jobs requiring a four-year college course.
“As long as it’s not teaching,” the 22-year-old education graduate said.
She said that she wanted to explore the world and that jobs requiring the handling of money attracted her more than teaching.
“I used to work as a substitute verifier for a bank and I enjoyed it a lot,” she said.
Joffrey Suyao, DOLE regional director, said 7,672 job applicants registered in Gmall and SM City malls in Davao and the Gaisano mall in Tagum, where a total of 244 firms posted their hiring needs.
Most of the job openings posted by 180 local firms, however, were for cyberservices, personnel services, clerks and the hospitality industries.
Marcel (not her real name), a graduate of a hotel and restaurant management course, looked for a job in the hotel sector. She said this would be her fourth job if she was hired.
She said she used to work at SM Lanang where her employment contract was terminated after her fifth month on the job. Then, she found work at the new Abreeza mall but her contract was again terminated after her fifth month, Still undaunted, she decided to apply this time for a job in the hotel sector.—With reports from Joey Gabieta and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas; Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao; and Jhesset Enano and Mariejo Ramos, trainees in Manila