Workers with good behavioral skills get better pay – study

MANILA, Philippines – More employers in the Philippines are finding it hard to search for workers with good behavioral skills, a recent study found.

According to a World Bank report titled "Developing Socioemotional Skills for the Philippines' Labor Market," there is a rising number of firms that have difficulty looking for workers "with appropriate socioemotional skills."

Between 2009 and 2015, the share of firms that acknowledged having unfilled vacancies because of a lack of qualified candidates increased by about 30%, stated the report launched Thursday, November 23.

More than half of employers said it is difficult to hire workers with managerial and leadership skills, work ethic and commitment, and interpersonal and communication skills. 

Screenshot from World Bank report

This skills gap led Philippine companies to invest in behavioral skills training. Around 6 out of 10 Philippine employers said they have provided training for their workers in the past year. This figure is "well above" the average of Southeast Asian countries.

"Workers with greater socioemotional skills tend to have better employment prospects. A one-standard-deviation increase in socioemotional skills is associated with a 15-percentage-point increase in the probability of being employed," the report reads.

The World Bank also noted that employees with good behavioral skills actually get higher earnings.

Citing the Skills Toward Employability and Productivity (STEP) survey, the World Bank said a 5.6% to 9% wage hike was associated with socioemotional skills training. An additional year of education, meanwhile, was linked to a 3% increase in wages.

"Extroversion and openness to new experience" are the traits mostly linked to chances of better pay. This is mainly prominent among women and young workers who are likely to "engage in activities that require interpersonal skills."

Screenshot from World Bank report

Values education 

While the Philippines has been recognized to have an educated labor force, the World Bank stressed that "soft skills" education should be made more mainstream.

The national education system only allots 300 minutes every week for subjects like values education and MAPEH (music, art, physical education, and health) in elementary. These subjects are more integrated into the secondary school curriculum which allocates 400 minutes per week for both subjects combined. 

Screenshot from World Bank report

However, these subjects must be instilled in students' consciousness during the early stages of education and development.

The World Bank suggested that educators promote activities which hone socioemotional skills like team-based projects, apprenticeship programs, and vocational education. 

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is currently implementing a youth employment program called JobStart to close this skills gap. It is also setting up its new labor market information system called TalentMap, which aims to match job seekers and employers based on their competencies. 

Taking from the experience of developed countries, the World Bank said socioemotional skills are crucial in the modern economy.

"Numeracy, literacy, technical skills, and school enrollment are benchmarks of a productive, modern nation... But the jobs of the future also require skills that promote individual behavior, personality, attitude, and mindset," said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

"Integrating behavioral skills in schools and vocational training will help the Philippines to be more competitive globally," she added. –

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.