Aired on October 11, 2010
Narration by RG Foncardas
As President Benigno Aquino was about to take office, the official unemployment rate was at 8 percent, representing 3.1 million unemployed people. It was supposed to be the highest in two years. What government statisticians noted was that while GDP growth was steady, it played upon “a boom and bust cycle.” Unofficial estimates from the left-wing Ibon Foundation think-tank put the unemployment figure at 11.3 percent.
“Graduating to unemployment” has become more common with every new batch of college graduates. Even those holding jobs find themselves in an uncertain position as industries and sectors change almost overnight. While the business process outsourcing industry is still enjoying growth, the number of people with the requisite skills is not be enough to keep it going.
Jesus became known as an apprentice of his earthly father Joseph in the carpenter’s trade. The late Pope John Paul II said that work not only is a way of guaranteeing livelihood but of fulfilling one’s humanity. Resolving domestic unemployment, then, is one of the challenges facing the new government. This is not only a question of eradicating poverty. It is the way our government helps us live our mandate to “fill the earth and subdue it” as a result of our fallen condition.
But how should it be done? One way of creating jobs is through strengthening local or community infrastructure. If government at all levels is serious about eradicating corruption, it should work quickly to ensure that more money goes to compensation and safe work conditions than to the pockets of middlemen and politicians. It can help and not hinder business by giving private contractors incentives to maintain infrastructure projects. This may also guarantee continued employment.
Much of the initiative, though, may have to start at a local level. We have mentioned that local governments are best placed to know about the human resources of a particular place. In the context of both investment and employment policy, this is important. Also, given their close interaction with people in the community, churches and other development organizations could help out by providing imaginative ideas for curbing unemployment, and if needed to help equip people with the skills they need to work well and be productive.
It may be in entrepreneurship where part of the employment problem is resolved. By being owners, people take responsibility in a greater sense for the work they do. It involves risks, but with the passion of entrepreneurs and the support of communities, it can provide a way out of unemployment for some. Passion and responsibility in one’s work is what can help make work more human and help build the nation.