Senator Win Gatchalian urged the government to devise ways of providing employment opportunities to millions of Filipinos unemployed, many of whom have been displaced by the imposition of strict quarantine regulations, and pursue retooling programs to prepare them for the job market of the new normal.
“Trabaho, hindi lang basta ayuda, ang dapat ipursige ng pamahalaan para masiguro na maitatawid ng marami nating kababayan ang mga arawang pangangailangan ng pang matagalan,” Gatchalian said.
While the latest labor force survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the number of unemployed Filipinos went down to 3.44 million in March from 4.19 million in February, Gatchalian said the country should brace for a higher unemployment rate in the months to come following the re-imposition of stricter health protocols in the National Capital Region (NCR) plus bubble from March 29 to May 15.
In the short and medium term, the hiring of additional 6,000 contact tracers for the NCR will help the people out of work fill in the slots, according to the senator, adding that infrastructure projects planned this year could generate 1.7 million jobs and an additional employment of 1.5 million for next year.
Gatchalian said that a retooling program is also needed to help the displaced workers acquire new skills and prepare them for the emerging sectors in the post pandemic setting as training programs can help boost government expenditure and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Many still lack digital skills. We have to provide new skills for low-skilled workers which could help businesses stay competitive,” Gatchalian said.
The senator added that the enactment of the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill will expand the loan programs for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are the primary employers of the country, with a lower cost of borrowings and simplified process of securing a loan.
This will help address the cash flow issues faced by the majority of MSMEs, the reason behind the retrenchment of many workers, the senator said.