Job market quality hasn't recovered despite lower unemployment: jobs app founder

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2021 05:30 PM

MANILA - The Philippine job market has not fully recovered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic despite pronouncements from the government that employment figures are now near pre-pandemic levels, the founder of a job search app said on Wednesday. 

PasaJob app founder and CEO Kristen Mariano said that while the government claims that enough jobs have been created to offset those that were lost in 2020, the quality of jobs has not improved to pre-pandemic levels. 

In an interview with ANC, Mariano said the jobs created can not match the jobs lost in terms of quality. 

"The new jobs created by the government are more of the informal, and irregular jobs. They do not really replace the jobs that were lost pre-pandemic, and so, I think we still need to re-skill and reallocate people to more skilled jobs,” Mariano said. 

Last April, the Asian Development Bank also said that the pandemic could leave a lasting impact on employment in the Philippines as job creation has shifted to less stable and lower-quality jobs.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 now in the Philippines, Mariano said entry-level low-skilled jobs are again at risk, especially if the government institutes new quarantine restrictions. 

He noted that it is vital for workers to re-skill, because higher skilled jobs have proven to be more stable during the pandemic. 

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority the Philippines has an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, as of May. That translates to 3.73 million unemployed individuals aged 15 years and above. That is 408 thousand less compared to April’s total of 4.14 million. 

Unemployment peaked in April 2020 at a record high of 17.7 percent when the Philippine government instituted the tightest levels of quarantine restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. That is equivalent to 7.3 million unemployed individuals. 

Mariano said there are two things preventing Filipinos from getting better quality jobs, the skills gap, and the information gap. The information gap is what he described as the limitations in the ability of job seekers to look for jobs. He said it is likely the jobs they want are available, they just don’t know where to look or how to get them.

The skills gap meanwhile is something that has been talked about by the government and several industries such as the pandemic resilient BPO sector. 

"It's not that the quality of workers we have has suddenly deteriorated over the course of the pandemic. It's just that the skill sets, the requirements of the industry have evolved. So we are seeing a greater shift towards more skilled jobs," he said. 

Mariano also cited a recent report saying about 25 percent of workers will need to be reallocated or re-skilled to these new roles.

"In terms of the job market, we are seeing greater demand for healthcare roles, also from the STEM industry, that would be science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” 

Mariano said tech skills are highly coveted, such as digital marketing and data analysis, and these are new skills, which the workforce needs to acquire. 

“In terms of the skills required, they would have to be a combination of the technical ad soft skills. Soft skills will involve, among other skills, the willingness and capacity to actually learn these new skills. It is not an easy task." 

The Pasajob app was launched by Mariano with the help of former Senator Bam Aquino. It offers as much as P8,000 in referral fees to users who help connect job seekers with employers successfully. 

Mariano said after 3 months of operation the Pasajob app now has 10,000 users.

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