A practical solution to the unemployment problem
As the impact of the global financial crisis unravels, we find our country affected the most with the closure of companies and factories and the termination of OFW contracts. The Department of Labor (DOLE) reports that more than 15,000 workers have been retrenched over the past two months, while 19,000 others had their working hours reduced. As many as 800,000 people are expected to add to the swelling unemployment rate which presently stands at 6.8 % or about five million unemployed and underemployed adults.
We have read of various efforts to address this problem of worsening unemployment. Business and labor groups have banded with academe and the government to push for the creation of 1.3 million jobs within the year, which will be sourced from both domestic and overseas establishments. Active players will be the government, business process outsourcing (BPO) centers and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
While we read of these various solutions and wonder at the same time whether the wheels will turn in favor of the displaced workers, we are able to see a brighter future with actual programs already being done in Makati. Mayor Jejomar Binay reports that his Public Services Employment Office (PESO) had successfully employed more than 15,000 job seekers in multinational firms and local companies just last year. Around 4,499 applicants were hired through a Mini Job Fair held last year, while 2,015 people were employed under the Regular Job Placement Program. PESO Satellite offices also reported that they were able to find jobs for 1,940 job applicants and 1,896 applicants who joined the Mega Job Fair in May and November last year. Under Makati City’s Government Internship Program, 3,275 young adults found work, while another 1,569 became gainfully employed through the city government’s coordination with private companies who sponsored job fairs.
Mayor Binay, whose great advantage over other mayors is the number of large establishments in a prime commercial city that is Makati, certainly has a simple and practical example to ensure that services are delivered directly to people. What he does is simply match the wealth of available resources and opportunities in his city with the most urgent need of his constituents. His PESO is an effective vehicle that makes plans happen, ensuring that objectives are met. The important thing is he works on hand and stays on top of the situation. Progress is monitored and evaluated and the numbers are recorded so that a sense of achievement permeates his whole organization, with each member knowing that they have contributed meaningfully to solving a problem. Lest we become engulfed in the technical jargon of economics, having to figure out their meaning and impact on our common problems before being able to formulate a solution, let us get down on ground and deal with the problems directly. We need not be or pretend to be economic experts to do this.
Nowadays, there are two kinds of leaders those who are interested in the fleece and those who care about the flock. We challenge our local leaders to become true leaders in these trying times. Their being in the grassroots is an advantage; they can develop the potentials in their respective areas and create new opportunities for their people. Collectively, their efforts will push the nation forward even in hard times. If they just keep the needs of the people in mind, they will not miss knowing the best and most practical solution. This is a simple formula that cannot go wrong.
By Alejandro R. Roces
Updated February 12, 2009 12:00 AM