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Labor pains

The Department of Labor and Employment is at the verge of rolling out a three-year national recovery plan to generate jobs for the millions of workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national employment strategy is scheduled for implementation by the middle of 2021. Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said DOLE, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority initially started the plan but other national government agencies have expressed willingness to join the program.

In 2020, DOLE focused almost all efforts, shelling out billions of pesos, in extending assistance to displaced Filipino workers here and abroad.

As of October, DOLE has recorded over 3.8 million workers nationwide who lost their jobs or suffered from reduced working hours and income due to the pandemic. More than half a million overseas Filipino workers were also displaced by COVID-19. Recruitment officials claim the industry nearly collapsed, with more than half of the agencies forced to close down as hiring of Filipino workers abroad dropped by 60 percent.

Tutay, who also serves as director for DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment, added that the labor market in 2021 is expected to be tight. Aside from over 3.8 million unemployed workers as of October 2020, the first batch of transition under the K-12 program is graduating in 2021, adding pressure in the labor market. This will be an additional challenge for labor officials as the country gradually opens the economy.

A 3-year national employment strategy will be helpful as the Philippines struggles to recover from the adverse effects of COVID-19 that has bogged down our economy for almost an entire year. Prospective employees have to be retrained and prepared for the demands of the new normal as businesses and employers slowly get back on their feet, hopefully with adequate government support.

The coming of the New Year always brings hope, even during a pandemic. The millions of Filipino workers whose lives have been affected by the pandemic will certainly appreciate a government that is truly willing and able to do everything in its power to uplift lives in a safe and sustainable manner. This initiative by the DOLE and the government agencies that are pitching in will play a significant role in making 2021 better for Filipinos.*

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