Solving labor issues requires more than job matching, labor group leader tells DOLE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 2) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should do more than job matching to address the country's employment issues, a labor group leader said Thursday.

Louie Corral, vice president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said the agency should also provide solutions to some other issues hounding Filipino workers such as the problems in wage and safety, as well as illegal contractualization.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that more Filipinos were employed in 2018 compared to the prior year. The employment rate last year reached 94.7 percent, a little higher than 2017's 94.3 percent. However, underemployment rate went up to 16.4 percent from 16.1 percent in 2017, while unemployment rate decreased to 5.3 percent from 2017's 5.7 percent.

"The DOLE is trying to relegate its soul to just job matching. Job creation is more than just about job matching and facilitation, you need to have a specific strategy," Corral told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

"This is our wake up call for DOLE: address the wage issue, address the hungry issue for workers, address security of tenure issues immediately," he also said.

Corral said the DOLE should work together with other government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Commission on Higher Education, TESDA, and the Education Department to create a "whole country approach" to labor problems.

"DOLE is looking at numbers, but is just doing market facilitation and education, like what they do to job fairs, they can do much more. That is the challenge to the secretary of labor, for him to make a political and economic imagination to see the real problems that Filipino workers have," he said.

Corral said the government should also prepare the local workforce from the disruption that may be brought by emerging technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence, among others.

"We have to create a situation where technology will not be the competition for our jobs. We have to get out of manual and repetitive labors. We have to look at a way of partnering our workers with technology so they can take away jobs way from other countries instead of taking away jobs from our country," he said.

Corral also proposed ways to attract more foreign investments that in return will generate more jobs for Filipinos.

He said the government should lower down the cost of electricity.

If we brought down our power cost to the level at least of Thailand... you'll make our economy more competitive. We don't have to wait for bbb to put up the infrastructure to pull in the investments, investors will come as long as you bring down the cost of power

"Even now you don't have to look at low term manual labor slow growth model, you can look at fast growth model with decent jobs as long as you bring power cost down.

The government should also give incentives to those investing in the country, he added.

"We'd like to see investments that do and create additional value... why don't we incentivize these investments that if you bring in additional value.. and you respect the organization of workers union, and let's just say regularize your workers, then we'll give you additional tax holidays," Corral said.