SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Labor Department of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) hosted on Friday the Subic Bay Freeport Labor Matching Congress to help reduce mismatch between labor demand by existing companies and the available workforce in this Freeport.
SBMA labor manager Severo Pastor said the congress served as a venue for dialogue among students, the academe, business locators, and the government to fill employment gaps in an overall effort to achieve industrial peace.
The congress was held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) and was attended by sectoral representatives from the Subic Freeport, Olongapo, and Zambales. The event also drew participation from the SBMA Business Group, which communicates with business locators in manufacturing, maritime, leisure, logistics, ICT, and general business and investment.
“It is a continuing activity of SBMA as part of its corporate social responsibility to extend to students and the community its services of finding or creating suitable jobs matching their skills,” Pastor said.
He noted that employment problems in the Philippines are often caused by labor mismatch, which results in underemployment, if not unemployment.
He recalled that when South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Inc. started its operation in Subic Bay, it asked the SBMA for 10,000 workers as welders, plumbers, electricians, painters, and others.
“Unfortunately, we could only provide a tenth of the number asked. And the rest had to undergo trainings,” Pastor said.
He added that with the SBMA’s target of creating 100,000 jobs by the end of 2015, the SBMA Labor Department is now intensifying its efforts with the help of business locators, schools, and related agencies of the government like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Education (DepEd).
“This why we in TESDA recommend that all high school graduating students must undergo skills development training to develop skills and interest, and later choose the right college or vocational course after graduation,” explained TESDA Officer (R3) Nomer Pascual during the congress.
Meanwhile, some business locators in the Freeport pointed out their concerns about labor mismatch to help identify and address the problems.
Quintin Ellick, owner of Contex Call Center and concurrent vice chairman of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone ICT Advisory Council, admitted that most courses offered in local schools cannot be applied in most companies in the Freeport.
Nicera Philippines Inc. human resource manager Myra Concepcion, on the other hand, revealed that they have been experiencing difficulty in hiring new applicants because most of them failed simple tests and have attitude problems.
“In one hiring, out of 1,200 applicants only 25 percent passed the simple abstract reasoning and arithmetic items; and of those who passed only 38 percent passed the interview,” she said.
Given the problems faced in hiring new applicants, the company representatives suggested that the academe should enhance the teaching of English and mathematics subjects starting in high school and also offer courses in personal development, including 5S in the workplace.