Public-private sector collaboration for Filipino workers

GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion - The Philippine Star

On the day we held our commitment signing for the Trabaho Para sa Bayan: J.O.B.S. (Job Opportunities Building Skills) initiative of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) in job generation, news also came out about our economy’s first quarter GDP performance, which expanded at an encouraging 5.7 percent year-on-year.

I suppose it was only fitting that these two key indicators of economic health – GDP and employment – would be front and center during that day. It only served to emphasize that GDP and employment cannot be divorced from one another; our collective well-being as a country depends on the health of both.

The event itself was a landmark show of unity and commitment. As the lead for the Jobs cluster of the PSAC, it gave me great pride to see how our big brothers in the private sector have embraced the spirit of bayanihan – all of us working together toward a common purpose – to help uplift lives and realize the promise of shared prosperity with every Filipino.

The country’s leading private sector organizations threw their full support behind the J.O.B.S. program, and right there with us were the key players from both the private sector and government. There was SMIC vice-chairperson, PSAC Jobs member and the lead for J.O.B.S. Tessie Sy-Coson, and our fellow PSAC members, who have gone all-out on their upskilling-related initiatives to support our goals at PSAC: Rizalina Mantaring, Kevin Tan, Fred Ayala and Doris Ho, who encapsulated perfectly what we are trying to do here: rowing together as one in the right direction, instead of just rowing and rowing to nowhere. From the government side were Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma and Special Assistant to the President for Investments and Economic Affairs Secretary Frederick Go. The presence of our industry allies George Barcelon of the PCCI, Sergio Ortiz-Luis of Phil. Exporters Confederation, Ferdinand Ferrer of the Employers Confederation of the Phils., Frankie Antolin of IBPAP, Ronaldo R. Elepaño Jr. of  Phil. Construction Association and Dannah Majarocon of Jobstreet was much appreciated. I look forward to seeing among our ranks the other business organizations who have pledged their support for our initiative.

The bold partnership between government and private sector – embodied that day with the private sector’s commitment – holds tremendous promise for uplifting millions of Filipino workers and addressing long-standing issues around unemployment and jobs-skills mismatch.

For too long, the task of generating sufficient employment opportunities and equipping our workforce with relevant skills has fallen squarely on the government’s shoulders. But the scale of this challenge is simply too vast for the public sector to tackle alone. By pooling our resources and capabilities through public-private collaboration, we can achieve what neither sector could on its own.

The private sector, being the primary engine of job creation, is stepping up with a generous commitment of resources. Companies across industries are pledging to hold job fairs, leverage digital platforms for efficient job matching and invest in labor talent development programs. This multi-pronged approach recognizes that creating jobs is just the start – we must also develop the skills that allow workers to thrive in those roles or increase their chances of finding higher-paying, high-quality jobs.

At its core, this initiative reflects the spirit of bayanihan – a uniquely Filipino tradition of community members joining hands to support one another. The private sector is banding together with the government to lift up our “bayani ng bayan” – the ordinary Filipino workers whose tireless efforts power our nation’s progress.

The human cost of unemployment extends far beyond just lost wages. It robs people of dignity, erodes self-worth and strains families and communities. By connecting job seekers with meaningful employment, we aren’t just bolstering our economy – we are restoring hope and empowering our people to reach their full potential as productive members of society.

Alongside generating new jobs, this partnership aims to bridge the skills gap through upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Private sector is committed to continuous workforce development to ensure that the labor force remains competitive and adaptable in the face of emerging technologies and shifting industry demands.

The private sector’s involvement lends valuable market insights that can help align training curricula with real-world job requirements. By making skills training more accessible, affordable and industry-relevant, we can create a positive spiral where enhanced employability leads to better jobs and higher incomes for Filipino workers.

As Labor Sec. Laguesma put it, the recent signing of the J.O.B.S. MOU is the first step towards the operationalization of the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act, which was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last year to address unemployment, underemployment and other challenges in the labor market.

More significantly, the Act reaffirms the connection between jobs and the health of our MSMEs. MSMEs account for more than half of the employment generated in the economy; this is true for the Philippines and other countries in the ASEAN. MSMEs provide this employment not only in the urban centers, but in the small communities in the provinces, where the jobs are most needed.

This milestone represents a new era of constructive collaboration between the public and private sectors. It exemplifies how shared commitment to national development can transcend self-interests and partisan divides. When businesses, government and civic organizations unite for a common cause, we unlock formidable synergies that benefit all Filipinos.

The road ahead will be long and challenges are inevitable. But this partnership carries the extraordinary potential to fundamentally reshape workforce development and job creation in the Philippines. It is an investment in our most precious resource – the talents and aspirations of the Filipino people. When we sustain this spirit of bayanihan, a future of dignified work and inclusive prosperity will be within reach.

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