2022 Issues that Matter: Employment and Job Creation

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed the lives of so many Filipinos but also taken away work and earning opportunities for many willing and able workers due to forced closures brought about by periodic lockdowns. In August 2021, the unemployment rate rose to 8.1% or equivalent to about 3.9 million jobless Filipinos as the country went back to implementing harsh lockdowns due to the rapid transmission of the Delta variant.

The next administration is beset with the economic challenge to put people back to work and advance wealth creation opportunities for individuals and groups severely affected by the pandemic. 

A couple of key policy and programmatic proposals can mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our economy and provide meaningful wealth creation and employment opportunities to many Filipinos:

  1. Create an enabling environment for business owners to migrate to digital platforms with the pandemic prompting a shift to digital technology for business continuity.  

Government should incentivize and provide technical and financial assistance to MSMEs that implement adaptive business measures. Government should encourage MSMEs to consider diversifying their products and services, use online platforms for business transactions, and maximize the potential of non-cash payment options. For MSMEs hardest hit by the pandemic, government should provide ample access to various credit/loan facilities.

  1. The creation of a stable, consistent, and fair policy environment, in light of the current pandemic, will reduce uncertainties in doing business in the country.

Barriers for entry of new players in the market must also be eliminated, particularly in sectors where monopolistic competition exist through the stringent enforcement of the Competition Law.

To further support the above, ease of doing business initiatives must continue to simplify processes for applying permits and reduce red tape to enthuse individuals to start new businesses by leveraging on their newly harnessed digital capabilities. 

  1. Re-invigorate the tourism sector to boost local employment. Support and assistance for direct, upstream, and downstream industries involved in tourism activities must be fostered to increase economic opportunities for locals. The national government should also consider tax cuts and incentives to tourism-related businesses which have been severely affected by the pandemic. 

Further, the government must re-position and re-brand the Philippines as a safe tourism destination which places a high premium on a tourist's health and safety. 

  1. Foster better government-private sector linkages to create new industries hence increased number of job opportunities for many Filipinos. A prime example of which are the use of auto-parts, fiberglass, electronics, and batteries, which has opened a new industry that produces electronic tricycles.

The objective of the next administration’s employment and job creation strategy is to raise the living standard of each Filipino and broaden the base of opportunities for gainful employment of Filipino workers.

The end goal is for every Filipino to have the means to gain productive employment and means to create his/her own wealth for a prosperous and vibrant economy.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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