Sunday August 19, 2018

Dole: Western Visayas employment rate still positive at 94.6%

THE employment rate in Western Visayas remains positive at 94.6 percent as of April this year, the top official of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in the region said.

Lawyer Johnson Cañete, at the sidelines of the 2018 Kalayaan Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan activity held at 888 Premier Mall in Bacolod City on Tuesday, June 12, said the region’s employment rate during the first four months of the year is slightly higher than the national average rate of 94.5 percent.

Citing the latest results of the Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Cañete reported that the region’s labor force participation rate is 61.8 percent as of April 2018, still higher than the national rate of 60.9 percent.

“The national scale is based on different situations. But looking at Western Visayas alone, the region is performing well,” he said, adding that “one beautiful attribute of the region is being a tourism destination, thus, we have more opportunity for job seekers.”

Based on the said survey, the unemployment rate in the region is pegged at 5.4 percent while the underemployment rate is 17.5 percent.

Underemployed persons are those workers who are highly-skilled but working in low paying jobs, workers who are highly-skilled but working in low skill jobs, and part-time workers who would prefer to be full-time.

The regional line agency said it cannot compare the recent data with those in the same period last year since Negros Occidental was previously under the defunct Negros Island Region.

But comparing the figures with that in January this year, the employment rate in the region during the said month is higher at 95.1 percent.

The unemployment and underemployment rates, meanwhile, are 4.9 and 22.9 percent, respectively.

Cañete said the slight drop in the employment rate can be attributed to having new graduates joining the region’s workforce.

Not all of them can immediately land a job, thus, they might be included already in those unemployed workers surveyed by the PSA for the month of April, Cañete said.

“It is not a significant decrease since we are really expected to have an increase on the number of the labor force,” he said, stressing that “the challenge here is how can the country attract more investors and how can we develop more entrepreneurs.”

Cañete added that “maybe, we can develop these graduates to become part of the micro, small and medium enterprises rather than just being job seekers.”

Citing survey results, the regional director said it would take a year for graduates of four or five-year courses to find a stable job and at least one and a half year for those with technical and vocational courses.

To address such gap, the Dole is implementing programs like the Government Internship Program (GIP) and job start program to provide “work experience” to fresh graduates.

“During the job application, the employer usually asks for the work experience. The answer normally is none,” he stressed.

Moreover, for Dole-6, the positive employment rate means that the economy in Western Visayas is still robust.

Cañete said establishments continue to grow resulting to the hiring of more people. Meaning, there are new opportunities for growth thus, new investments are coming in.

However, the employment rate in the region is expected to significantly drop in the coming months mainly due to the closure of Boracay Island in Aklan, the region’s top tourist destination.

“We have profiled about 18,000 Boracay workers and most of them are expected not to apply for other jobs within the closure period for them to avail of the assistance from the government in six months,” Cañete said.