MANILA— The "success" of recovery and keeping the quality of jobs to pre-pandemic levels depends on how the government will address the new COVID-19 Delta variant, the International Labor Organization said Friday.
"Our future success of rebounding to the pre-pandemic level depends hugely on how we will be successful in the coming months at the national level to contain the pandemic in the face of the new challenges caused by the new Delta variant," ILO Enterpreside Development Specialist Hideki Kagohashi told ANC.
The Philippines' Department of Health recently confirmed the entry of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant. The government is expected to fine-tune quarantine restrictions due to the new variant, which is known to be highly contagious.
ILO and Japan recently launched a $2.2-million project to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kagohashi said the project would focus on firms' occupational safety to support reopening and recovery. Many of these small firms shut during the peak of the pandemic, he said.
ILO noted that some workers were forced to shift to the informal sector to survive.
The project will ensure that vulnerable companies prevent COVID-19 infections at the workplace as well as improve productivity, he said.
Aside from the risk of COVID-19 that threatens growth and recovery of small and medium firms, the ILO also aims to address 3 major gaps in employment in the Philippines which are gender and social inclusion, financing and skills gap, he said.
Unemployment in the Philippines eased to 7.7 percent in May, which translates to 3.73 million jobless Filipinos from 4.14 million in April.
Government officials have said the country has gained back jobs lost during the pandemic.
However, the Asian Development Bank earlier noted that although jobs were back to pre-pandemic levels, COVID-19 has resulted in low-quality jobs.