Lean crowds noted at 56 job fairs
The scorching heat may not have deterred militant labor groups from holding protests on the streets, but it certainly attracted fewer jobseekers at the Labor Day job fairs organized by the government on Friday.
Labor Undersecretary Reydeluz Conferido said the enervating heat could be one of the factors why less people turned up at the 56 job fair venues nationwide.
“That’s possible…according to Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) the temperature today outside is 39.9 degrees Celsius. That may be a factor [for the low turnout of applicants],” Conferido told reporters at the job fair held at the Forum 1 and 2 of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, there were 51,629 registered applicants at the job fairs nationwide, 2,873 of whom were hired on the spot.
Last year, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) data showed, there were more than 100,000 who registered at job fairs across the country, more than 2,200 of whom were hired on the spot.
But Conferido said they expect the figures to increase as they are still waiting for data from other regions. He added that there were many near-hires at the job fairs.
Near-hires are applicants who have applied for the jobs but fell short of requirements, and thus require further interviews or more training to meet the necessary standard.
The low turnout may also have something to do with the labor department’s effort to strengthen the labor law compliance system.
“We are more strict now, maybe the employers are also adjusting to that. Before it was just implied [that they have to adhere to that] but now they are being assessed first. They are being required to show proof that they have been assessed or they have an undertaking that they are willing to be assessed openly,” Conferido said.
“Another factor is the accessibility of the venues,” he said, noting that many of the job fairs last year were held in malls.
“The other potential venues were still under assessment,” Conferido explained.
He also admitted that the labor department’s various activities affected preparations for or promotion of the job fairs.
“Last year, I think the announcement for the conduct of job fairs, including the venues where it will be held, was done at least two months in advance. But as you know the DOLE has a lot of activities. We are hosting the Apec, Asean…,” Conferido said.
Overseas employment remained attractive to the many jobseekers Friday.
Several applicants were hired on the spot for nontechnical positions like merchandisers, butchers, sales and marketing in destinations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, among others.
Stephen Julian, 29, was hired immediately as a merchandiser in a mall in Riyadh. He said he grabbed the opportunity to work overseas to give his family a better life.
A high school graduate, Julian said it was difficult to find a better-paying job here as he was not a college graduate.
But not everyone at the job fair was looking for employment. There were others who interested in the livelihood opportunities on offer.
At least 10 former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were given livelihood starter kits.
Virginia Vidad, a 46-year-old former domestic helper in the United Arab Emirates, was given a sewing starter kit, which included a sewing machine.
“I will use it to earn extra income for my family,” she said.
Gemma Poblete, 38, and Angelyn Santos, 39, were both granted a spa starter kit.
Both women admitted to being runaway OFWs from Qatar.
“We escaped because we were duped, we ended up working as domestic helpers even as we applied for different positions in malls and hotels. We were also given lower salaries compared to what was stated in our contracts,” Poblete said.
“I hope this livelihood opportunity is the start of a better life for us,” added Santos.
Apart from livelihood assistance, there were other applicants referred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for skills training.