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Youth, Employment and Migration


The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have given serious thought on the plight of the youth as a labor and social force. Last April 12, the DOLE and the National Youth Commission led by new Chair Leon Flores III hosted various youth and labor leaders for the presentation of papers by Ateneo Professor Dr. Alvin Ang and DOLE official Lites Viloria.

Dr. Ang presented the key policy issues on youth, employment and migration. The very well-written paper identified the problems related to raising employment and proposed workable solutions. Lites Viloria presented her findings on the DOLE nationwide consultations of the youth.

Congressman Mong Palatino of the Ang Kabataan Partylist presented a thoughtful response to the paper. He highlighted his advocacy for humane working conditions for the youth. He acknowledged the need to create jobs for the youth.

In my response, I made five points. One, there is a need to focus on the quality of education and a movement away from a culture of diploma. Many in our communities, and I have seen this among Muslim Filipino communities, view the diploma as the end-all of college education. There is a refusal to look beyond the diploma and test the graduate for his or her skills. Often, it is a struggle for these graduates to even write a decent formal correspondence.

Two, there is a need for a targeted education strategy. We must focus on courses that will lead to jobs. Technical vocation and the agriculture sector are largely forgotten or viewed in a lesser light than white-collar office jobs. Yet, these are the two sectors that have provided most new jobs and have capacity for expansion. In an agricultural country like ours, it is a shame that we need to import rice and some of our food needs.

Three, youth employment is an important key to a successful peace process. By giving the youth a worthy alternative for their time, it will take them away from joining groups or organizations espousing violence for change in the social contract or governance.

Four, there is a need to mention the special concerns of Muslim Filipinos. In pursuance of their right to worship, Muslim Filipinos must be given special consideration due to the requirement of their faith of fives time a day prayer and the fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Five, and most importantly, there must be shift in our view of the youth. Instead of advocating for their tender-loving care, we must view the Filipino youth as strong and resilient that is capable of meeting the challenges of the realities of the world.

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