Digital economy emergence amid pandemic demanding new skills among workers


As the digital economy further gains ground amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, new skills set among workers and jobseekers, particularly on digital and technical know-how, are needed to keep up with the labor market.

This is one of the findings of the JobsFit Covid-19 Labor Market Information (LMI) Report of the Department of Labor and Employment, which presents the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the labor market landscape.

The document, which is a mid-term update of the JobsFit 2022 LMI Report, underscores enabling better matching of skills and employment opportunities as the pandemic reshapes the labor market.

In the report’s launching on Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said that “facilitating access to labor market through timely, relevant, and accurate labor market information is part of the government’s action plan towards economic and social recovery.”

The report also presents the impact on employment brought by the community quarantine restrictions, labor supply profile, labor demand, job search trends, and the key employment generators or the major industry groups with the greatest potential to generate employment in the years to come.

Majority of the jobseekers highlighted the need for digital and technical skills, which may be accounted for the shift in the labor demand and working arrangements.

To keep up with the labor market, dominant skills needed by jobseekers include digital literacy; financial literacy; occupational safety and health skills; integrity, which entails physical, mental, and reproductive health; and stress tolerance.

Prior to the pandemic, the top skills highlighted by jobseekers are soft skills, which include being a team player, social awareness, problem sensitivity, self-motivation, planning and organizing, decision-making, creative problem solving, innovation, English functional skill, and comprehension, and multi-tasking.

The report also showed that compared to 2019 when the majority of jobseekers were fresh graduates or new entrants to the labor force, wage-employed workers accounted for the most number of jobseekers in 2020.

In terms of impact on employment, recovery from the drastic slump in the labor market was seen on the July 2020 round of the Labor Force Survey. However, underemployment is still relatively high in comparison to the pre-pandemic level.

This may be accounted for the flexible work arrangements still being implemented by some companies, but with investments and the rise of new key employment generators, these factors will hopefully translate to more stable employment, said Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay.

Among the industries that remained at the top, or those with the highest number of vacancies during the pandemic are business process outsourcing, information and communication technology, manufacturing, financial intermediation, sales, retail, and medical and healthcare.

New industries that emerged are in the government sector, general services and utility, and accounting.

In terms of occupations, call center agent, customer representative/service assistant, nurse, and sales clerk positions consistently remained at the top of the list.

Adding to the top occupations amid the pandemic are teachers, engineers, administrative assistants, system developers, software developers and programmers, web developers, supervisors, and real estate and property positions.

The report also highlighted that government recovery strategies and private sector cooperation and initiatives are key in developing the future labor market landscape.

One of these approaches is the National Employment Recovery Strategy, which is a medium-term plan aimed at stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs, and income; protecting workers; and relying on social dialogue.

“As the road to economic and social recovery remains a major thrust of the government, NERS provides a whole-of-society action plan on creating more employment opportunities and improving the employability of workers,” Bello said.

Tutay hopes that the “findings of the JobsFit Covid-19 LMI Report will be used as a guide by all of our stakeholders in the creation of policies and programs that will future-proof our businesses and our labor force.”

Also providing inputs during the forum are JobStreet Country Manager Philip Gioca, IndustriAll Global Union National Project Coordinator Ramon Certeza, Employers Confederation of the Philippines Governor Antonio Sayo, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Deputy Director General Lina Sarmiento.

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