MANILA, Philippines?Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said on Monday that about 1,500 found jobs in the construction center just a few hours after the job fair of the Department of Public Works and Highways -- which was launched to get workers for its infrastructure projects -- opened.
Thirty contractors participated in the job fair held at the DPWH central office in Manila. Simultaneous fairs are happening in the offices of the DPWH nationwide.
DPWH is spending P60 billion, which is part of the P330 billion stimulus package, in the first half of 2009 for construction projects nationwide. The agency hopes to generate 500,000 jobs in the construction sector for 2009.
?We have come up with this jobs fair to help not only the contractors but more so the skilled workers who need employment,? Secretary Ebdane said on Monday in an interview.
Thousands of workers trooped to the DPWH on Monday to find work from contractors gearing up for the administration's pump priming projects to spur the economy.
Manuel dela Cruz, 34, and Edgardo Algonaba, 22, lost their jobs last month as laborers. They rushed to the DPWH headquarters in Manila after hearing about the job fair last week.
?This is our first time applying like this. Usually, our friends only call us if they need workers,? Dela Cruzz said, adding he earned around P300 a day in his previous work.
Another applicant, Jolly Gosingco, used to work in a call center company. He lost his job when his employer cut back after they lost a major client.
?I used to work for a call center in Ortigas but with the economic slump, our main client pulled out and they had to lay off some employees, I was one of them,? he said.
Gosingco, his family's breadwinner, was hoping to use his know-how developed from his communications degree in working for a construction firm or a contracting company. He remained optimistic about his chances despite the hard times.
?I believe that with hard work, I will get promoted eventually, this is not the time to be picky,? he said.
The DPWH job fair is co-sponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment, the National Constructors Association of the Philippines, and the Philippine Constructors Association Inc.
The companies that joined the Comprehensive Livelihood and Employment Emergency Program advertised for machine operators, drivers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, laborers, and foremen. There were also vacancies for engineers, surveyors, and clerks.
Ebdane said the employment initiative has been part of President Macapagal-Arroyo's program to mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis in the Philippines.
The DPWH said the pump priming initiatives ? mainly consisting of maintenance and construction of roads, bridges, school buildings, and flood control facilities - would employ 50% unskilled workers and 30% skilled workers. The rest would be professionals employed by contracting companies.
Ebdane said the DPWH was foreseeing more hiring in the next few months. ?Because of the simultaneous construction that we would conduct, we have thought that there will be a shortage of labor. Before, there was still a chance to borrow workers from one another during the lull, it is not the same case now since the jobs will be undertaken at the same time.?
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the DPWH's job fair opened more opportunities for jobless Filipinos affected by the crisis. Since October, Roque said 39,000 Filipinos have been fired from their jobs. Most of those who were retrenched came from the export zones in Region IV-A.
?What we are offering is a wider range of options for them. Before, the only options are the BPO [business process outsourcing] companies. Now, there's construction, so there are more and more employment opportunities,? Roque said.
The labor chief said the new work generated by the government's pump priming activities would help curb the country's unemployment rate.
Roque said job losses among overseas Filipino workers remained at around 5,400, based on information DOLE had as of Monday. He noted that companies overseas, especially electronics and semiconductor firms in Taiwan, were reluctant to let go of their workers should they lose their migrant worker quotas.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said deployment of OFWs remained robust. The POEA said 165,737 Filipinos left for work abroad in January 2009, a significant increase over the 125,522 in the same month in 2008.