MANILA - To save the country’s economy and workforce from the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Senator Sonny Angara has filed Senate Bill No. 1469 or the “National Digital Careers Act".
The bill seeks to strengthen the attraction to digital careers of the Philippine workforce, supported by good remuneration and continuous training to be given by the concerned government agencies.
"Because nauso na yung work from home... we need a career framework involves education, careers training and support from the government agencies... importante dito ang CHED, DICT, TESDA, DepEd, and DOLE to do its traditional role in matching skills to jobs," Angara said.
Angara also said the labor opportunity in the said field can be explored considering that there are at least 35 digital-related jobs readily available today.
Jobs like digital marketing manager, web content manager, app developer, software engineer, quality analyst, web designer, search engine lead generation specialist, telemarketer, among others, are in demand right now, Angara added.
"Baka maganda rin na mayroon sa DOLE family na nakatingin sa future...i-track nila kung ano yung state of affairs dito sa mga trabahong ito...nakikita ko kasi all you need dito sa digital careers is a PC or a tablet. Talagang very easy to set up,” Angara pointed out.
He also said services will continue to flourish in contrast to the manufacturing industry’s slow activity these days.
“I think nandodoon po yung comparative advantages ng mga Pilipino...on the skills side maganda ring i-focus ang mga kabataan natin," Angara explained.
Even senior citizens can do the job provided that they will be given the proper training, Angara said.
According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, such direction of profession is part of the government’s so-called “4th industrial revolution” that the current administration is trying to develop.
Senator Joel Villanueva said he supports the need to promote digital careers for workers and the country to survive under the new normal.
“I believe that TESDA will play a significant role in this regard. Pinag-uusapan po natin ang upskilling at retraining ng ating mga workers dahil nakikita po natin na isa sa mga epekto ng lockdown at prolonged unemployment is the de-skilling of workers. Sa tagal pong hindi nagtatrabaho, kakalawangin po talaga ang skills," he said.
“I really believe that we should focus on training to help our workers cope with disequilibria brought by this pandemic. That’s why we need to maintain expenditure levels on education and training. Re-aligning funds for training will hurt long-term economic recovery,” Villanueva added.
As for the survival of displaced overseas Filipino workers, Angara questions the 7.5 percent interest rate that the Land Bank of the Philippines applies to every approved loan of a displaced OFWs in the middle of the crisis.
Land Bank has opened a loan program for displaced OFWs ranging from P100,000 to P2 million so they can put up a business amid the crisis.
“Most if not all of these repatriated OFWs no longer have jobs to return to or will find it very difficult to find new jobs under the current circumstances. The world has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of companies here and abroad have either closed shop or resorted to retrenchment,” Angara said.
“We have to find ways to help the repatriated OFWs in finding alternative sources of livelihood because their families depend on them. With the low-interest loans from OWWA, the displaced OFWs could be provided with capital to start their own small businesses here,” he added.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration administrator Hans Cacdac said agency officials are still working for the possible reduction of the interest rate for OFWs’ loan being imposed by the LBP.
Around 1,000 OFWs have availed of the said program.
"That was one of the points that were raised, that we could work with Land Bank to decrease the interest rate. So again we’re in the process of working with them on that, to lower the interest rate and hopefully we can pick up the talks again with the Land Bank,” Cacdac told the Senate committee.