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‘Looming skills gap post-virus’

“No jobs for the unskilled. No workers for skilled work.”

This was the warning of the economist of the House of Representatives who forecasts that some 2.4 million skilled jobs or 6 percent of the labor force might be unfilled within the next decade unless education and training reforms were implemented.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, warned policymakers there was a looming post-COVID-19 skills gap, where unskilled workers could not find jobs while jobs requiring skills could not be filled.

“This will be a silent crisis, because it will only make itself seen gradually and in the households whose workers cannot find jobs and, in the businesses, where skilled jobs remain unfilled. This situation will definitely bog us down,” Salceda said.

He warned that many of the jobs lost to the coronavirus disease-19 pandemic would not return “simply because there will no longer be any need for them, even if businesses recover as “we’ve all moved online.”

“Expect painful permanent shrinkages in the low-skill service sector, and a drag in real wages due to the oversupply of unskilled work, unless we are willing to make meaningful policy changes now.”

“The bottomline is: We need to prepare the workforce for a new economy. Our current education and training system, where we place value on diplomas and not skills, will just not do,” Salceda added.

In his report titled, “The coming skills and employment gap and the case for education and training reform,” Salceda called for significant reforms in the training and education systems to meet the needs of new and emerging businesses.

Salceda cited growth in the business process outsourcing sector, which is projected to grow by 3.5 to 7.5 percent annually within the next three years.

“Without a reliable stream of well-trained talent for these growing industries, however, they will eventually move to our competitors in India, Pakistan, and even increasingly, Vietnam.”

Salceda estimates that some 2.4 million skilled and well-paid jobs will be left unfilled within the next ten years if education and training systems are not improved meaningfully, and that at least 20 million new and existing workers will have to be trained, retrained, and retooled to keep the skilled worker supply-demand equilibrium in balance.

“The formula for new training and education systems will have to be access plus quality plus adaptability. We have to train as many Filipinos as possible to be very highly-skilled workers who can also very quickly adapt to new changes in industries,” Salceda said. 

Topics: House of Representatives , skilled jobs , Joey Sarte Salceda , coronavirus disease-19 pandemic
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