DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – The Davao Region has many job vacancies that are not filled in yet because the applicants are not the ones needed by the industries, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 11.

The DOLE-11 earlier said out of 228,689 total vacant jobs in the region last year, only 64,489 of the 77,498 applicants were hired out in a total of 57 job fairs conducted.

Vacancies for mining engineers and agriculture-related jobs are among those that were hard to fill up due to jobs-skills mismatch, according to DOLE-11.

Joffrey Suyao, DOLE-11 regional director, said in a media forum here Monday the labor pool has to catch up with the changing labor demand brought by the fast development of industries, considering the jobs-skills mismatch in the region.

He cited that it was evident in jobs fairs last year that many vacancies had not been filled because of either the job applicants’ lack of interest in the available jobs or lack of skills required in the industry.

Bert Barriga, executive vice president of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Davao, Inc., said in a phone interview Tuesday there are available talents who have the basic skills to be qualified for business process outsourcing (BPO) as call center agents but they need to be trained to be “ready” for the industry.

He cited that there should be support through training facilities to complement for the available jobs in BPO companies, adding that the industry has yet to generate 14,000 jobs more until 2016 to complete its target of 30,000 jobs in the region.

He said Convergys and Teleperformance, two of the biggest BPO companies in the country, will open this year with a total of 1,000 initial job vacancies. He added that their hiring may be doubled after two months of operation.

“Such projection should be supported by crafting very good training programs to constantly produce talents,” he told MindaNews.

He said the training support is an opportunity for the academe and private sectors, citing that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has provided scholarships to develop competent labor force fit for the BPO industry.

Decreased labor force participation

He said the mismatch has been a factor to the decrease in labor force participation rate in the region this year with 64.4 percent from last year’s 66.7 percent, adding that migration of labor force was also considered.

He cited that as of January this year, the total population of the region’s labor force reached 3.72 million, including 15 years old and above.

“We have the same employment rate this year and last year,” he said, “but the labor force has been growing as graduates are added to the labor force every year.”

Based on the data he showed to reporters, the employment rate was at 93.7 percent and the unemployment rate was at 6.3 percent in the region as of January 2013 and the same period last year.

The underemployment rate increased to 21.1 percent this year from 15.1 percent last year based on the data.

Suyao explained that underemployed are those who are already employed but are still desiring for more income, or wanting to transfer to a job that paid higher than his or her current job.

Regional career conference

Suyao mentioned that DOLE 11 will hold a regional career conference sometime in June or July this year to address skills mismatch and current labor demands of various industries.

The conference will be a localized version of the national career congress that was held in Manila last year, discussing ways on how to address the jobs-skills mismatch in the country, he added.

To be included in the inputs of the conference, Suyao said, are the results of its ongoing consultation with the industries in the region.

The DOLE-11 has conducted consultations to validate labor demands and update labor market information that were provided five years ago.

Suyao said his office has been consulting industries since last month, including information and communication technology-business process outsourcing (ICT-BPO), hotel and restaurants, mining, agri-business and banking.

He added that updates will be provided by April.

“It is important for DOLE to provide the right labor market information,” he said, adding that the DOLE organized guidance counselors to help guide the students in determining their career path.

(Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)