Senators warn of worsening unemployment, skills problem

(MANILA STANDARD) Senators have expressed grave concerns over the likelihood of the country’s unemployment and underemployment problems getting worse as new graduates lacked the so-called “soft skills.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the problem on new graduates being unprepared for the difficult task of finding jobs has long been festering the education sector.

Senate majority leader Joel Villanueva said the country’s labor market must be ready for the 1.5 million new graduates who will eventually join the pool of workers looking for jobs this year.

For his part, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said as early as 2014, he had been pushing for an enhanced apprenticeship program in a bid to promote skills acquisition and youth employment.

Hontiveros said reform measures on the issue have been studied and implemented.

“But to what extent do the education authorities execute these recommendations?” she inquired.

The senator expressed hopes that the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) would formulate a “game-changing strategy to address the wicked problem of the sector and that the leadership of our educational agencies is committed and competent to execute it in partnership with the different stakeholders, especially the teachers and the students.”

“Time is of the essence in implementing education reforms’” Hontiveros stressed.

“The last thing we need is an employment crisis on top of an education crisis. Especially because our graduates are being thrust into a post-pandemic world of historical inflation with which many families are struggling,” she added.

The government, according to her, must support the Filipino families in their hunt for sufficient livelihood.

With the new entrants to the labor force, Villanueva said the unemployment and underemployment would surely increase if no change to sluggish efforts on job generation and addressing gaps in school-to-work transition and persisting job-skills mismatch is done.