800,000 workers ‘vulnerable’ to job loss
MANILA, Philippines — Some 800,000 Filipinos are “vulnerable” to job loss this year due to the world financial crisis, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said on Monday.
At the same time, Recto admitted that creating jobs amid the crisis was “tough.”
Recto, who heads the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), refused to forecast how many of the “vulnerable” 800,000 might actually lose their jobs, but he expressed confidence the government would “net create” jobs, meaning there will be more jobs created compared to jobs lost, this year.
He also advised the roughly 900,000 college graduates and undergraduates who plan to join the workforce this year to return to school, instead, and build up their skills to take advantage of the global rebound when it happens.
“Clearly, I know that there are roughly 800,000 vulnerable to the global crisis in the Philippines. These are…workers in export-oriented industries, particularly semiconductors, wire harnessing, electronics, OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] in export-oriented economies,” he told a news conference at the Palace.
“Based on the MTPDP [Medium Term Philippine Development Plan], you should be creating something like a million jobs, but you know its’ going to be tough to do a million jobs this year,” he said.
Recto said at best the government can create roughly 500,000 jobs, the same number as last year, for as long as economic conditions do not worsen.
“We will still net create jobs,” he said. “Yes, there will be people who lose jobs and there will be people who gain jobs.”
Recto said the challenge for government would be convincing the 900,000 college graduates and out-of-school youth to return to school.
“They should not be looking for work, they should be back in school…How do you train them, equip them with more skills, so when you have that global rebound, they’re prepared and they can benefit from it as well,” he said.
Recto also said Filipinos should not be preoccupied too much with the prospect of losing their jobs.
“Let’s not talk down at ourselves all the time. Another perspective is that, here we are, catching up with our neighbors because we’re the second best growing [economy] in the region. I’m not saying we’re happy that they’re falling,” he said.
Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the creation of one million jobs in the first half of 2009, mostly through the government’s Oyster, or street sweeper, program.
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