May I earnestly commend the Albay Provincial Field Office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under the initiative and leadership of Provincial Director Leah Balderama-Dy with the overall stewardship of Regional Director Joel Gonzalez for sponsoring the 2020 DOLE-Albay Online Job Fair.
The importance and relevance of this activity cannot be overemphasized as the pandemic continues to enfeeble employment and businesses, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Bicol Region like in other parts of the country even as stringent lockdown measures are now eased and the economy welcomes the opening of business operations and the return of workers.
This online job fair is being held amidst the backdrop of a 17.7% unemployment rate as of April 2020 which accounted for 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos. Although the Bicol Region is not among the Regions severely affected, its unemployment rate of 15.7% in April 2020 from 5.8% in April 2019 is nevertheless alarming and must be adequately addressed.
This grave unemployment rate is compounded by the numerous numbers of repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have lost their foreign employment and are now seeking jobs in the local market.
It must be recalled that traditionally, OFWs are not reckoned in computation of employment and unemployment rates. They must now be part of the equation on total number of workers displaced consequent to COVID-19.
A job fair, also commonly referred to as a career fair or career expo, is an informal but convenient event where prospective employers meet future employees and job matching is facilitated. This this now achieved through virtual or online platforms with the coordination and guidance of the DOLE.
I am informed that the 2020 DOLE-Albay Online Job Fair has listed a total of 2,319 number of job vacancies from home-based to office-based employment, with production operator positions topping the list at 2,000 vacancies.
This online job fair is opportune as businesses will resume or intensify operations with the availment of interest-free and concessionary loans from government financial institutions and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP). More people are returning to work and job opportunities are in the offing.
The nine industries listed where there are job opportunities range from agriculture to healthcare, microfinance, realty, and retail among others.
I hope this job fair will be truly successful so that displaced workers and new entrants to the workforce are able to secure appropriate employment in order that the number of beneficiaries of wage subsidies will be reduced even as unfortunately, the government is now hesitant to continue these benefits as the economy is opening up.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Alejandro S. Condat from Tiwi in the First District of Albay, for garnering the Kabuhayan Award for Best DOLE-Assisted Livelihood Project (Individual Category) with the project “Bamboo and Coconut Shell Craft Production”.
I hope this entrepreneurial accomplishment of Mr. Condat will encourage more entrepreneurs in the First District of Albay and the rest of the Province of Albay and the Bicol Region to produce quality and competitive products from indigenous raw materials. Congratulations to the other winners and awardees.
I am happy to inform you that I have requested Agriculture Secretary William Dar to establish separate and appropriate funding to harness the full development of the pili industry in the Bicol Region, more particularly in the Provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes where pili production principally for the domestic market is an ongoing enterprise.
With appropriate funding and with our comparative advantage as the sole commercial producer of pili products, pili can venture into the global market, and more jobs will be generated with the rise of the pili industry.
Thank you again and congratulations!
EDCEL C. LAGMAN