The school year is about to end. At this time every year, with the infusion of new graduates at the high school and college levels, the job market will again gain fresh additions to the supply of manpower running after the available demand which has historically been both insufficient and misaligned.
The latest data from the National Statistical Coordination Board show level of employment to be at 37,668,000 persons and unemployment to be 2,763,000 persons as of the third quarter, 2012.
The unemployment definition adopted by the NSCB includes all persons who are 15 years old and above and are reported as without work AND currently available for work and seeking work or not seeking work due to valid reasons.
The Pnoy administration is currently boasting of its 6.6 % GDP growth rate as if this was its own main doing and is reflective of an overall and solid economic performance. ( Please refer to a previous column placing this in a more accurate contextual evaluation.)
Senator Peter Cayetano may have been too dramatic when he stated that it is not 6.6% growth that most Filipinos have experienced but the 5/6 loan arrangements they have to get from loan sharks.
Nevertheless, economic growth without the corresponding growth in employment and income shares, particularly of the majority who are poor, is meaningless except for the ruling political and economic oligarchy.
Employment must also be evaluated from the perspectives of substantive and full utilization of skills and resources.
Underemployment or less than full time or below competences and skills may be prevalent. Engineers being employed as construction foremen or doctors as nurses or electronics engineers as encoders or call center agents are some examples of underemployment or disguised employment.
Some would allege that politicians are excellent examples of disguised employment- employed and compensated without productivity.
I feel bad about occasions when I have been approached for employment purposes by relatives, friends and politicians and even the persons themselves when I held positions which had some influence in hiring.
In most cases, the dialogue went like this:
RND: Ok, what job are you applying for? What can you do ?
Applicant: Anything, sir. Kahit ano.
RND: We are in the home construction business. Are you a mason? carpenter? electrician? tinsmither? plumber?
Applicant: No sir. No sir. No sir. Hindi po. ( to each position).
RND: Well what can you do? Ano ang kaya mong gawin?
Applicant: Kahit ano po. Anything sir.
RND: Abogado, accountant o engineer ka ba?
Applicant: Hindi po.
RND: What do you want to do? Gusto mo itong position ko?
Applicant: Naku hindi po. Pero kahit ano po. Anything I am willing to do as long as I get a job.
And I finally said in exasperation, “ Siguro, congressman ka. Kahit ano kaya mo.”
I guess I was unkind. These people had no needed or marketable skills or competences and that meant to them that they were willing to do anything. Anything meant the lowest and most menial of jobs. Such a tragic situation for which I ask forgiveness for my insensitivity.