For many years, the government of the Philippines has been preaching the growing number of job vacancies. But it’s puzzling to realize how this does not translate to real jobs as joblessness and difficulty to find means of livelihood continue to send troubling signals to the labor market.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, 820,255 business establishments were operating in the country in 2011, 99.6 percent of which are the so-called micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which generated 3.872 million jobs in the same year.
But despite these progressive numbers, we think the Philippines remains to be the wrong place to find a job. Here are some of the causes.
Employers offer lower salaries vs. overseas job positions.
According to Samuel Matunog of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Davao, the city needs about 5,000 IT and IT-related workers each year. Although the city produces about a thousand graduates in the field annually, its graduates prefer higher-paying jobs overseas. The average pay for an IT professional in the city ranges between P12,000 and P15,000, while in Singapore, the same job title can get offers of salaries equivalent to P80,000.
Employers look for height, age, and pleasing personalities.
It’s a common sight in the help wanted section of newspapers or job portals that Filipino companies tend to look for applicants for jobs who have extra qualifications that may not be necessarily essential in the workplace. Companies wish to hire people who are taller, younger, and prettier, but who may not be smarter and more productive products of the university sales ladies workers. More qualified and deserving candidates for the jobs may not get calls from companies and are deservedly better off heading for workplaces abroad and leave the backward hiring culture back home.
Employers hire based on connection, not on skills.
It’s a great job, if not impossible, to land a position in many government agencies in the Philippines for those who are not endorsed by well-known and influential figures in society. People who are close to prominent business people, local and national government officials, celebrities, and even members of the clergy are likely granted slots in summer jobs, OJT’s, and permanent positions while the less attached are left to accept jobs that are less attractive, low-paying and often offer no security of tenure.
Employers offer contractual jobs.
Many jobs in the Philippines are contractual. From street sweepers to security guards to sales ladies, job security is a constant concern for workers who may never attain a regular employment status, no thanks to the lack of government measures to protect employees against unfair labor practices. After a six-month contract ends, employees express a sigh of relief once told their job contract had been extended. Otherwise, this means workers need to find another job once more.
Employers hire only candidates from prominent universities.
Many companies are obsessed with hiring candidates who come from reputable learning institutions. This means those who come from lesser-known schools are often discriminated against and forced to accept less desirable and lower-paying jobs.
Employers charge applicants who undergo on-the-job training.
With demand for training facilities and certifications now required for those who wish to work abroad, Philippine-based companies turn this imbalance of supply and demand into a money-making venture. Nurses who want to serve a hospital or sailors desiring to enlist in an inter-island vessel without pay in exchange for that invaluable experience are further required to pay vast sums of money to get priority over other candidates.
There are too many competing candidates for very few positions.
Some too many graduates finish the same course while there are very few jobs awaiting them. This means some grads have to look deeper into the job vacancy pool or be forced to switch careers in hopes of landing a job faster. In the Philippines, it is not a shocking experience to see thousands of job hunters vie for a few dozens of jobs. Even if there are pockets of job fairs held, securing new employment is far from reality to many candidates, some of whom may fabricate false information on their resumes or call on influential people to help them land an employment offer.
It is expensive and physically exhaustive to apply for jobs.
Employers sometimes require applicants to submit multiple clearances, reference letters, certifications, medical fees, examination fees, and more, even before they are hired. It’s not uncommon to practice to ask applicants to undergo multiple interviews, exams, and diagnostic tests, inevitably draining their savings. In most cases, candidates are left to wait for their fate as they hear the proverbial ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you‘ statement.
There is no place like home. And working with our loved ones nearby is priceless. But with reduced employment benefits, the bleak outlook in the job market, and the promise of greener pastures found overseas, Filipinos now find it a better idea to leave home, even if it means parting with loved ones and risking that strong family bond.