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On tackling joblessness

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About 20,000 students from the various schools in Zamboanga City will graduate from college in this now-ending school year, a local news report has divulged. Majority of them will not find any job soon, especially here in the city or region.  Our economy is simply not creating enough job opportunities, despite its recent and projected upbeat performance.

The current unemployment rate is around eight percent; the labor population of the Philippines is nearly 40-million, which means more than 3-million who are eligible and looking for work are not finding any.  The upheaval in the Middle East, where millions of our OFWs are working, is continuing to displace thousands of them, and the end is not in sight yet.  On top of this, there is fear of another global recession resulting from the triple-disasters that hit Japan, the third largest economy of the world.

Adding to the woes of the college graduates is the fact that, according to the Commission on Higher Education, only one out of three of college graduates who took up courses that require licensure on the average pass the examinations given by the Professional Regulatory Commission.  Never mind what that says about the quality of higher education in the country.  It means that those who cannot get a professional license are condemned to land in meaner or lesser-level jobs, if they can find any, in the first place.  The aggregate result is lesser purchasing power of people, which along with other macro factors drags the economy further down the production curve.  As we know, without the billion-dollar remittances from the OFWs, the Philippine economy will sink in the wink of an eye.

Contrary to common perception or conventional notion, a recent study said that the major source of economic growth for the average nation is not big businesses or government investments.  The study said it is the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) who contribute most to a nation’s economic development, especially when they graduate to become successful big-time players, thus creating many new jobs, raising purchasing power, and contributing to overall national output.

SMEs are created and sustained by entrepreneurs, who more and more are made rather than born.  Our jobless graduates and others like them should be encouraged to become entrepreneurs, with government creating the necessary favorable policies, regulations and support programs to give them better chances to succeed.  Our neighbors in South Asia became tiger economies in this fashion; many European nations continue to rely on their SMEs to keep their economies going.

We Pinoys take pride in our vaunted creativity and talents and the rich natural resources of our archipelago, two of the basic ingredients of business building.  There is no overwhelming reason, therefore, why we can’t play catch-up, at least, and thus give jobs and better lives to one another, right in our own towns and backyards.  (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)




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