Employers are committed to create one million jobs in the next six months, with new hiring coming from four major sectors – electronics, outsourcing, construction, and tourism — but said this would hinge largely on the continuous reopening of the economy and flexibility of government quarantine policies.

George Barcelon, chairman of the 42ND National Conference of Employers (NCE) of the Employers Conference of the Philippines (ECOP), said the multi-sectoral one million jobs pledge will be signed at the closing of the conference on June 30.

The virtual ECOP annual conference with the theme: “Reform. Rebound. Recover,” will open today with Vice-President Leni Robredo as keynote speaker. 

Barcelon said the jobs pledge will be signed by the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (SEIPI), IT Business Process Management Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Philippine Constructors Association, and Hotel and Restaurants Association of the Philippines.

Government agency signatories include the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority.

The jobs pledge project, which is being coordinated by ECOP Governor Ferdinand A. Ferrer, will be presented to President Duterte.

“We are hopeful because the electronics and semiconductor sector is in strong demand for chips

globally,” he said.

SEIPI President Dan Lachica said the sector can hire 7,000 jobs within a six- month period. SEIPI, composed of mostly exporters, employs 370,000 direct workers.

“The lower commitment is due to concerns with some government agencies,” said Lachica, citing issues such as the gap in education skills, implementation of agency policies without adequate public consultation, the need to harmonize local ordinances, vaccination of economic workers, upskilling of workers, and transportation of workers.

Barcelon said the construction sector is also expected to boost employment as the government ramps up its implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” program.

Pre-COVID, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar said the BBB program was able to employ 6.5 million Filipinos.

With the easing of restrictions in the tourism sector, he said, more workers will also be able to return to work in hotels and restaurants and tourism facilities over the next six months. 

The IT-BPM sector employs more than 1.2 million workers and is looking at 5 percent growth this year

 “These four sectors are expected to contribute the bulk of new job opportunities in the next six months, hopefully,” he said.

He, however, said that the creation of the one million jobs pledge will largely hinge on the successful vaccination, treatment to ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, and tracing program of the government.

 The fourth component, he stressed, is public mass transportation to enable workers to go to work. At present, companies are incurring huge expenses as they provide shuttle services for workers. Traffic is also back in EDSA.

According to Barcelon, all member associations have passed similar resolutions urging the government to speed up vaccination and to further ease doing business in the country.

So far, he said, the situation is still very fluid given the new more virulent Delta strain that has already entered the country.

Barcelon said that in order to rebound and recover, the government needs to reform its policies and be more flexible to work-from-home employees and to further simply the quarantine rules.

ECOP has proposed that travelers need not be required to undergo mandatory quarantine when they already tested negative for COVID-19.

Foreign travelers should only be required to present a vaccination certification, take an antigen test upon arrival, and should be allowed to move around if the results are negative without quarantine.

“We want the government to try to further ease the restrictions, just ensure that our health system has enough capacity and then adjust so more people can go back to work and eventually recover because we are a consumer-oriented economy. We cannot wait for zero infection to return to work,” he said.

“No amount of approved resolutions can solve the joblessness in the country if we cannot control the COVID-19 infection,” he added.

ECOP also said the Philippine economy is also in dire situation and should rebound because it is now at the bottom among its Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) neighbors.

“The signing of the one million jobs pledge is to drum up the need to inject new life into the economy, otherwise, our unemployment rate will go up again,” he said.

He added that after more than a year of quarantines, several micro, small, and medium enterprises have already closed shop as government subsidy has not really made a dent on their operations.

 In fact, he said, some of the funds allocated for subsidies to the most vulnerable under the Bayanihan 2 have yet to be disbursed to recipients.

Thus, business organizations are planning to come up with a petition urging the government to disburse the funds to beneficiaries before the law expires on June 30. Otherwise, the law must be extended.  

They are also looking at fund allocation under the proposed third economic stimulus package Bayanihan 3, but would like the government to use up first the funds under Bayanihan 2. “A year has passed since the coronavirus disease pandemic hit the world. ECOP, nevertheless, remains committed to, and passionate about the promotion of industrial harmony, social justice, job preservation, and national growth, ensuring that employers in the Philippines are informed and updated with national strategies and programs to normalize the economy. We, in ECOP, continue to collaborate with the business community in exploring creative ways and adapting new coping mechanisms in order to survive, thrive, and sustain business operations in these difficult times, and thereby contribute to the Philippines’ economic recovery. In spite of what the country has been battling for a year now, we, at ECOP, still believe that there is no other way but onward and upward,” ECOP said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/06/21/employers-pledge-1m-jobs-in-6-months/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=employers-pledge-1m-jobs-in-6-months)