ASEAN integration to create 3.1M jobs in PH

MANILA, Philippines – The upcoming integration of Association of Southeast Asian Nations members in 2015 stands to  contribute 3.1 million more jobs in the Philippines, according to a joint study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

About 38% of the expected jobs could be in vulnerable employment, while women are seen to account for only 1.1 million of the estimated job gains, said the study, "ASEAN Community 2015: Managing integration for better jobs and shared prosperity."

The report said the country needs to boost skills training and social protection now in order to make the most of the single common market, or else risk worsening poverty.

“If decisive policy action is taken, AEC (ASEAN economic community) has the potential to ensure sustained economic growth centred on decent and productive work thus, help the Philippines achieve its goal of inclusive growth that creates jobs and reduces poverty,” ILO Philippines country office director Lawrence Jeff Johnson said.

By end of 2015, the ASEAN economic community (AEC), a common market and production base, will take shape in 10 ASEAN member states, including the Philippines.

Fully adopting the AEC trade measures could expand the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 7.5% by 2025, versus a baseline scenario without deeper integration, the study added.

From classroom to workplace

With the integration, freer flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor will impact the region’s economy, including jobs, skills, wages, and labor mobility.

If the benefits of AEC are unevenly distributed and poorly managed, integration could add to existing challenges in the areas of poverty, inequality, vulnerability, and poor job quality, the study said.

The demand for high-skilled employment such as managers, professionals, technicians, and associate professionals could also increase by nearly 60%.

Meanwhile, medium-skilled employment could grow by around 25% through employing clerks, craft, and related trade workers, plant and machine operators and assemblers, and service and sales workers. 

Low-skilled work could also rise significantly by more than 60%, the study said.

Improving the quality and relevance of education, technical, and vocational education and training in the Philippines is needed for the Filipino youth to smoothly transition from the classroom to the workplace, the study highlighted.

Labor migration to climb

“At the heart of promoting decent work is the goal of ensuring that the outcome yields workers that are mobile, job-ready, skilled, and competent, which in turn should help produce sustainable and competitive enterprises,” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

With the Philippines’ integration into AEC, it is also expected that labor migration will continue to climb, the study said.

Labor migration, particularly for low and medium-skilled workers, requires collective regional action to safeguard the rights of migrant workers, extend the coverage and portability of social security, and expand mutual skills recognition, it added.

“The prospect of large gains in such jobs calls for coordinated labor market policies to improve working conditions and reduce vulnerability,” Johnson said.

Other priority areas for action in the Philippines include the creation of better jobs, enhancing social protection programs, upgrading skills to meet shifting demand, and improving protection for migrant workers, among others, the joint ILO-ADB study said. Rappler.com