WE have been talking about “jobless growth,” about how the economy has been growing decently at 5 percent or higher in the last few years and yet the country couldn’t seem to lick joblessness.
Each analyst has his or her explanation: high population growth, the concentration of new jobs in the services sector requiring stringent qualifications, the capital intensity of investments owing to a fiscal incentive regime that cheapens capital vis-à-vis labor, the economy’s inability to grow enough to produce more jobs, etcetera. All these explanations make sense and for decades, the practitioners of the dismal science (the economists) have been pontificating about them in their “empirical studies.” The recent job fairs in
Consider this: In the April 28-May 1 jobs fair in
It’s so easy to blame the parents or the schools for this problem. It’s so easy to figure out how parents are not providing enough guidance to their children as to what sort of career would ensure a better life for them. It would be so convenient to blame schools, nay diploma mills, for mass-producing poorly trained hordes of quasi-educated graduates like the Model T Ford. After all there are too many of these schools around, offering accountancy degrees for graduates that couldn’t pass the board exams, engineering graduates who don’t know engineering, and lawyers who can’t write decent pleadings. Certainly, these schools should shape up and fast. We think, however, that this issue is just one side of the coin.
The other side lies in the failure of the government, specifically the Department of Labor and Employment, to provide adequate job market information by which parents and their children make career decisions. Certainly, greed among diploma mills and the overpriced schools are a scourge but if school administrators have adequate labor market information to guide their course offering and school curricula, the problem of job mismatch would be solved. Besides, students who are well aware of the job market are going to enroll in courses that would land them the hot jobs that they desire, thereby forcing the schools to offer the right mix of disciplines. In sum, the interaction of supply and demand for labor is not functioning well in the country for lack of job market information.
And whose job is it to provide this information? The mass media comprising print, broadcast and online, should help and indeed it’s playing this function well through the regular classifieds sections. In the Philippine context, however, the reach of mass media is still limited, especially for print and online media. Broadcast may have the potential to reach a wider audience but these institutions whose revenues are determined by advertising hours are not likely to offer systematic and processed information about the job market. Only the government, therefore, given its powers and resources, should be able to provide this information and yet it’s not doing it systematically. But how could the government perform this function?
There are many ways, besides the usual job fairs, skills development, training, and upgrading of the educational system. In the