Wednesday, November 01, 2006

EDITORIAL – Young and unemployed

The Philippine Star

Despite modest economic growth, the country isn’t producing enough employment opportunities. Adults can cope with this by finding jobs overseas. Most young workers do not have such opportunities. And they are the worst hit by the lack of jobs in developing countries, according to the International Labor Organization.

The ILO reported that youth unemployment is on the rise in developing countries, where young workers account for a greater proportion of the labor force than adults. From 1995 to 2005, the number of unemployed youths aged 15 to 24 jumped from 74 million to 85 million worldwide, the ILO reported.

The problem is slightly different in the Philippines, where laws against child labor ban adolescents and people in their late teens from joining the workforce. Yet youths can be seen working in farms and in hazardous places such as mines and makeshift firecracker factories. Poverty drives many families to make every able-bodied member earn his or her keep, with even girls working as housemaids. More unfortunate children are sold for sex.

For those who are old enough to work legally, however, there aren’t enough jobs in this country. The ILO said the highest youth unemployment rate was registered in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog. Most of the unemployed were college undergraduates followed by high school and college graduates. The ILO attributed this to the deteriorating quality of Philippine education, discriminatory hiring practices and weak linkages between education and training institutions.

The government can address the problem with some help from the private sector. Programs can be developed to provide short-term training for youths so they can quickly enter the workforce in sectors where they are needed. Such employment opportunities can also be designed to allow young workers to pursue higher education or vocational training. There are many employment opportunities for young and able-bodied workers. With some training and coordination with the private sector, more young people can enter the workforce.

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