From new graduates to educated unemployed

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The graduation season is over. Summer is here. And it's crying time again for those who will be on job hunting with scarcely any job available in the labor market. With all due respect to the Department of Labor and Employment, whose drum beaters would always insist that there so many jobs available, the truth is, we are sorry to say, that such line is all propaganda.

This government, and all governments for that matter, would always insist that everything is okay and that allegedly, there are enough work for our nine hundred thousand, or so, to a million new graduates each year. It is exasperating to hear this now hackneyed alibi of "job mismatch", as the culprit so-to-say. What is contrary to fact is not a valid argument. And the fact is, no new jobs are being created, no new factories are being opened. It is nothing but hasty constructions, call centers, and foreign jobs available.

The DOLE secretary whom we hold in high esteem, as a woman of great integrity, is being led by the department's PR guys to repeat via print and broadcast media, over and over again, to the point of "ad nauseam" that there are too many jobs available, only that the new graduates are supposedly either lacking in the needed skills or are too choosy to opt for more lucrative and cozy employment, rather than the jobs available in the market. Tell that baloney to the marines who are practically living day in and day out in Luneta, searching for illegal recruiters to victimize them.

This propaganda is not working. On the contrary, it creates negative impact on both the job seekers and the public in general. It is high time for the DOLE and the public relations people of this administration to come together, and jointly examine the facts, in their unadulterated forms, and formulate their communication program better and with more honesty and transparency.

The truth are quite disturbing. The population rate is 2.3%, the highest among the ten ASEAN member nations. The unemployment rate, according to the government itself is 7.5% but actually in double digits according to non-government sources. The government admits that between 3 to 4 million Filipinos are unemployed and more than 15 million are underemployed. But we have many NGO sources alleging that the number of jobless Filipinos hit 12.1 million in the last quarter of 2013, and the underemployed about 20 million. Every year, almost a million new graduates are added into the job markets. No new industries are being opened. No major real investments are coming in. New investors are on a wait-and-see attitude, considering that there is no certainty on  what kind of leader will the next President will be. There is no continuity of policies in this country and now they are talking of tinkering with the Constitution.

Based on the latest survey of the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is not seen as an attractive investment area because of four major concerns: LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURES, CORRUPTIONS, TOO EXPENSIVE, TOO UNRELIABLE  POWER SUPPLY, and TOO HIGH TAXES. And so, it would then appear that our economy will continue to rely on foreign remittances coming from our twelve million or so migrant Filipinos in about 200 countries all over the world. Lack of infrastructures is being addressed but alas, belatedly by this administration. It's original paradigm was ''no public works, no corruption''. Now, they are rushing major infra projects that are all concentrated in Luzon, mainly in the NCR. Corruption continues, albeit in a lesser and less ostentatious manner. The power problem is worsening. And the government is bleeding the middle class and the business sector dry, with taxes and tax prosecution, while high profile tax evaders are scot free.

And so, unfortunately for the new graduates, their choices are limited. They either decide to go abroad and be willing to work on 5 D's (dirty, difficult, dangerous, deceptive and degrading) jobs, or stay here unemployed or underemployed, to rely on remittances from spouses, parents, siblings or lovers.

They may find light into becoming entrepreneurs and start a small-scale or a medium-scale business, if they have the passion and the acumen. The guy from Iloilo who made billions out of MANG INASAL and CHICKBOY was unemployed. He is now employing thousands of Filipinos. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were college drop outs who later employed their classmates who were nerds and finished their education with academic honors. Blas Ople was a college drop out who rose to become a great DOLE Secretary and Foreign Affairs Secretary. But when he was Secretary of DOLE, he always told the truth about the unemployment situation and never deluded us with job fairs as the band-aid solution to joblessness.













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