Wake Up, Philippines!

A practical solution to the unemployment problem

Posted in DOLE, Employment, Tips by Erineus on February 12, 2009

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

Gov’t should stop raising OFWs’ hopes

Posted in Employment, Global Financial Crisis, Government, OFWs, Unemployment by Erineus on February 3, 2009

This refers to the news item titled, “Gov’t searching for more overseas jobs.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 01/25/ 09)

The Philippine government is raising false hopes with its repeated assurances that jobless Filipinos can find job openings in Australia and New Zealand; that these countries are “relatively insulated from the financial turmoil.”

The truth is Prime Minister John Key has said that New Zealand sees no economic growth and higher unemployment this year because of the impact of the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Finance Sector Union reported that between 5,000 and 20,000 jobs have been lost in Australia. The giant US construction equipment maker, Caterpillar, which has operations in Australia, is cutting 20,000 jobs worldwide.

Furthermore, the new “90 Day Bill” or “fire-at-will” bill comes as another threat to job security for Filipinos and other migrant workers in New Zealand. Under the 90 Day Bill, employers who are employing fewer than 20 people would have the right to sack workers in their first 90 days without the need to give any reason for such a decision. Clearly, the 90 Day Bill is New Zealand’s version of the “six-month labor contractualization” in the Philippines, a policy that deprives thousands of Filipinos of job security and forces them to seek jobs abroad at the cost of leaving their loved ones behind.

The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government continues to ignore the challenge to fulfill the state’s obligation to generate and secure jobs at home. This challenge was issued by migrant workers during the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Last December, Malacañang also issued Administrative Order 247 for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to “execute a paradigm shift by refocusing its functions from regulation to full-blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expatriate workers.”

No country is immune to the current wave of job losses, and Filipinos will find it harder to keep their jobs abroad. Therefore, the full-blast marketing of cheap Filipino labor is not the answer to the country’s chronic crisis. More than ever, securing jobs at home through genuine land reform and national industrialization must be pursued. AO 247 is a vain attempt of the Arroyo government to promote its labor export policy while completely disregarding the people’s clamor for urgent socio-economic reforms.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families certainly deserve a new government that will seriously address the roots of forced migration and the country’s chronic crisis. Someone who misused millions of public funds (including the hard-earned money of OFWs) to steal the presidency has no right to stay in power. Aside from corruption and human rights violations, the Arroyo administration’s perennial neglect of migrants’ rights and welfare gives us more reason to demand its ouster.

DENNIS MAGA, national coordinator, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand, migrante_nz@yahoo.com

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:21:00 02/03/2009

Prelate joins call for clean recycling jobs

Posted in Church, Employment, Environment, Reduce/Recycle/Reuse by Erineus on February 3, 2009

A Catholic prelate yesterday joined the call of the EcoWaste Coalition for clean recycling jobs amid the threat of massive unemployment due to the global financial crisis.

“With declining employment and warming climate, clean recycling jobs offer real economic opportunities for our people,” Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said. The chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Committee then urged the government to consider the potentials of recycling as a way to generate jobs for the people.

“I urge the authorities to look at the proven potentials of clean recycling in creating a wealth of jobs and in restoring the environment as we grapple with the mounting job woes,” said Iñiguez. The EcoWaste Coalition, for their part, said that safe and non-toxic recycling of discards can stimulate green enterprises that can generate revenues and jobs for the communities. “Diverting funds from dirty disposal to clean recycling aside from creating jobs will also help in conserving resources and in reducing the climate impact of our wasteful lifestyle,” Ofelia Panganiban of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Eco-Livelihood said.   The group cited the work of the Invisible Project in Pasay City, Kilus Foundation in Pasig City, Rags 2 Riches in Quezon City, Preda Foundation in Olongapo City, Earth Day Network in Antipolo City, and Buklod Tao in San Mateo Rizal as some of the many innovative people-driven eco-ventures providing income to community women who skillfully transform used juice packs, tarpaulin sheets, plastic bags and fabric scraps into creative functional goods like bags.   To further stress their point, EcoWaste cited the study made by the National Recycling Coalition for the US Environmental Protection Agency that illustrated the value of reuse and recycling to the US economy.

The “US Recycling Economic Information Study” showed that the country’s reuse and recycling industry employs as much as 1.1 million people and generates a whopping annual revenue of $ 236 billion.

The same study also documented that the reuse and recycling industry in US indirectly supported 1.4 million jobs in support industries such as accounting and office supply companies that have a payroll of billion and sales amounting to $ 173 billion.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque projected 200,000 job losses in six months, while Citigroup, a US financial services company, calculated that 470,000 Filipinos could lose their jobs this year.

Author: Leslie Ann G. Aquino

Lessons for employee development

Posted in Education, Employment, Formation, Training by Erineus on February 2, 2009

MEMORIZING the lyrics of a new song, figuring out how to make new software work, driving a car and acquiring a new skill—any of these activities involves the process of learning.

The ability to learn is one of humankind’s most important qualities that differentiate us from lower forms of being. It allows us to adapt to changing surroundings and find solutions to increasingly complex problems. What and how we learn determine who or what we will become.

Differing learning styles

How do people learn?

A study was conducted by the Ateneo Center for Organization Research and Development to determine what is the Filipino adults’ learning style and whether there is a difference in learning styles in terms of age, status and gender. The survey was administered to 223 students and 277 employees and professionals.
The results of the study reveal that learning style varies according to one’s age and gender. It shows that the younger respondents are more reflective-observers, who prefer self-study, while older respondents are more of active learners and experimenters.

Working respondents opt to learn with computers and group interaction while students are more comfortable with learning by reading and listening to lectures.

In terms of gender, males prefer self-study, and females prefer coaching.

The findings of this study affirm the importance of knowing what learning styles are most applicable to certain groups. This knowledge would help in the design and development of interventions and would make trainers more efficient and effective.

This also implies the need for trainers to be well versed on the profile of their potential trainees so they can adjust the training methods to their learning styles.

Empowering learners

The reality is, however, that it may be impossible to tailor fit all programs to meet the variety of styles of all learners. Thus, using a good mix of approaches may ensure that learners respond to the development intervention.

The results also suggest the importance of skills in process observation and analysis and flexibility for trainers.

Being able to read your audience and determining whether they are involved in the learning process and being flexible in approaches and designs are vital to success as a trainer.

The findings also strongly point to the need to go beyond training as a means for development. Clearly, while classroom training is still preferred by many, others prefer self-paced or more informal methods such as coaching.

This suggests the need to explore nontraining interventions such as readings, coaching, project assignments, etc.

Beyond this, perhaps it is time that we begin empowering the learners to take more responsibility for their own development. Assisting learners to assess their own strengths and competencies as well as mapping out their development plan may, in the end, be the true embodiment of being sensitive to learner’s needs and styles. After all, the true determinants of what learning approaches will work best are the learners themselves.

By Edna P. Franco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:44:00 02/01/2009

A job crisis survival guide

Posted in Employment, Global Financial Crisis, Personal Finance, Tips by Erineus on February 2, 2009

YOU COULD SAY PREPARING for extreme uncertainty now that corporate shutdowns and downsizing are escalating is already a bit late.

In a perfect world, we should have already drawn up clever financial escape hatches and different levels of fallback strategies to survive possible unemployment.

But it’s also human nature to party while Noah-like characters build arks when the sun is shining. Unfortunately, the sun is gone and rain is falling. Just last week, Intel has announced it was closing its more than two-decades-old plant in the Philippines, turning 1,800 employees jobless—and that was just the beginning.[read story]

Panasonic, Mitsumi Phils., Texas Instruments and many others announced they were either totally shutting down plants or downsizing. [Visit our special site on the jobs crisis] Official figures from the Department of Labor and Employment show that 19,000 Filipinos have already been retrenched and 34,000 have suffered from wage cuts as of Jan. 29. Hundreds more are losing their jobs every day, said Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.

Globally, the figures look even more alarming. The International Labor Organization expects the economic crunch to add 50 million people to the ranks of the unemployed this year.[read story]

“The outlook is bleak, even without reading the papers. (Many companies) are affected in various degrees of aggravation. Manufacturing is certainly affected in a large way. I thought that services would be spared but they are not. The curious thing is that some are not really affected that much but nevertheless take steps to cut people because the news is scaring them out of their wits,” says Manuel Quiambao, assistant dean of JRU Law School and a seasoned human resource practitioner.

If there is a time when losing your financial edge is a no-no, this is it. Losing a job doesn’t just mean loss of a regular paycheck. It can also mean losing that health insurance you’ve never really appreciated before. It can mean giving up gas, clothing and representation allowances, not to mention your sense of self-worth and financial peace with your spouse.

“Filipinos are known to only have nine weeks worth of savings. What if you don’t even have nine weeks?” says Alvin Tabañag, personal money management coach and registered financial planner.

Here’s your survival guide for these lean months:

1. Know your rights. Companies have at their disposal many tricks to lower the cost of cutting jobs.

They can call it “retrenchment,” instead of “redundancy” and save 50 percent in separation pay. Instead of getting one month for every year of service, you get only half a month if it’s a retrenchment.

Don’t forget, however, that membership in a union can entitle you to more than that so check with your union officers.

If you are being asked to stop work for no more than six months, the company doesn’t have to pay a single peso in separation pay and all benefits are suspended. Then again, you have a job after six months, although you can never be sure until when the company will keep you after that.

Employees should have at least a month’s notice before they are given the pink slip. “The labor department is given a copy of that notice so that the government and also the employees can initiate an inquiry on whether the company has competent proof that it really needs to lay off workers,” says Quiambao.

Expect most companies to use the raging economic crisis as their reason for cutting jobs, but don’t take their word for it. Under the law, before companies can send workers packing, they need to prove that they have done everything necessary to keep the company alive, like rotating workers in shifts and cutting costs. Companies also need to prove that losses are imminent, substantial and they need to back these up with audited financial statements.

If you find out that you’ve been given the boot due to the tough economic environment but the company hires someone else for a similar position, that’s foul play. “That’s invalid, and you can go after the company,” says Carlo Cariño, senior partner at the Cariño and Mabalot Law Offices.

2. Keep your current job. We all sort of mildly get fed up with our jobs from time to time. It’s called getting burned out. This year is not the time to let that feeling get the most of you. Don’t be a good employee; be exceptional because being indispensable keeps your neck off the chopping block. It’s easy to get lost in the daily to-do list, but the one thing that will keep you in the roster is if you understand what it takes for you to be a moneymaker for the company. That’s always the bottom line. And whatever you do, never badmouth anyone. What if the last person you rat on becomes your boss after a merger, then where would you be?

3. Dust off that resumé and keep your contact list close. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst means you better get that resumé dusted off and updated. If your contact list is in your computer at the office, back it up and keep your own copy. Update it on your own time. Everybody talks about networking, but few people actually spend time doing it.

“Normally, you can get the best job offers through your family, friends, ex-lovers, everybody you know. Online job searches are great resources too,” says Tabañag.

4. Feed that emergency fund like it’s a voracious pet. Start tracking your spending and you’ll find ways to save some pesos even if you think you’re stretched already. Postpone big purchases or vacations and keep your priorities straight. Be very careful with swiping that credit card. Feeling depressed because of all the gloomy news can cause you to use plastic like a drug by buying stuff to feel good about yourself. Don’t do it.

“If you go to the movies twice a week, perhaps do it once a month instead. If you are depressed and want to drink beer, remember that it costs P22 per bottle,” Tabañag adds.

5. Stay covered with health insurance and don’t wobble on insurance payments. These may seem like costs that you can do without in a down economy, but the truth is, you can’t afford to not have a decent healthcare plan and protection from death and disability especially when the monthly paycheck has stopped. This early, find out from your human resource department if the company healthcare plan, which is normally cheaper and has better terms than individual plans, can be continued.

6. If you’re having difficulty meeting loan payments, don’t hide from your creditors. Or your children’s school administrator who might be wondering why your check for tuition fee payments is bouncing. Being forthright with your financial situation can save money, because you just might persuade the bank not to turn over your account to a third-party collector. This is not always true, but there’s no harm in trying.

7. Raise cash. Filipinos are great at earning money on the side, whether it’s selling ready-to-wear clothing, food, or cookware. It’s part of the culture; so if you haven’t considered a sideline before, start thinking about a strategy now. Don’t be shy. People need to buy stuff; why not buy them from you instead of the mall?

“There are many, many ways to start your own business with minimal or no capital at all, especially for services. You can fix computers if you’re good at it, build a website, become a member of a good direct selling company. Those who have sizable goodbye money from their companies should think carefully about going into business instead of spending everything. A franchise, for example, is a good option,” says Tabañag, who is also author of a new personal book, “12 Ways To Build Wealth On Any Income.

8. Clear your head and keep your emotions in check. Jitters can cause you to make mistakes. And whatever happens, remember that people are more important than things and that also means marriages are more important than paychecks. In the United States, divorce rates have gone down as couples find it’s cheaper to stay together.

Tabañag adds that losing a job can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

“We Filipinos, often our careers are handpicked by our parents. This could be the best time for you to do what you really want to do. When you are forced to get out of your comfort zone and consider other careers, who knows, that’s where you will really excel,” he says.

By Ma. Salve Duplito
First Posted 20:49:00 02/01/2009