Philippine employment dilemma: Dumb down the jobs? Or smarten up the workforce?

The Philippines is imprisoned by a deep systemic inability in its people to extricate themselves from poverty. It is a problem that is an outcome of (1) the sheer number of Filipinos that inhabit the planet, (2) the average productive output of each warm Filipino body earning (or seeking to earn) a living, and (3) the general attractiveness of quality of life outside of the Philippines. The following challenges with respect to these three aspects of our dire situation easily reveal themselves…

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Law of supply and demand

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workersEverything from how high wages can be set to the way and quality that workers are treated is subject the the law of supply-and-demand. The reality is, there is an over-supply of takers for work under the most atrocious conditions — impoverished unskilled workers from countries like the Philippines and similar ratholes in Africa and the Subcontinent.


Labour productivity is a function of both skill and capital. Workers with the right skills, equipment and tools (whether they be computers or power tools) can do more for less effort. Five Japanese builders can build a house in less time applying far less effort than an army of Filipino builders on a similar project. With skill too comes access to work that pays better. Said work pays better because workers competent enough to do them are more scarce.

Mobility of scarce workers

More options for workers who possess skills that are in demand means such workers can choose. Many of them opt with their feet — marching towards countries where they are better rewarded for their trouble.

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An Associated Press report confirms the trend…

Scientists, engineers, doctors, IT specialists, accountants and even teachers are among the English-speaking talent heading to foreign lands, leaving the government and private companies scrambling to find replacements.

Note one of the personal assets in these classes of workers that was highlighted: English-speaking talent. Trouble is, this is a highly-politicised issue that is deadlocked in a country where all the wrong arguments win.

The often-sloganeered “issue” of a “lack of employment” in the Philippines is a mis-nomer. The jobs are there, but…

A Labour Department study in 2008 found that despite a huge domestic workforce, many positions for skilled workers were going unfilled because there were not enough qualified applicants.

In short, Filipinos simply fail to step up to the work that already exists within the country. But then those that do also find doors opening for them elsewhere.

Chicken-and-egg. Do we dumb down demand to accomodate a dumb workforce? Or do we smarten up the workforce so they have a shot at filling demand that currently exists?

The winners — educated English-speaking folk — take all either way.

11 Replies to “Philippine employment dilemma: Dumb down the jobs? Or smarten up the workforce?”

  1. you are comparing apples and oranges, there are skilled labour in philippines too.
    unskilled labour needs to be directed to where it’s needed . the issues with unemployment is labour is where it’s not needed. instead of 5 skilled guys the system allows 20 unskilled ones to be hired.
    there will always be “dumb unskilled labour” in every country. it is even essential to have them , someone needs to do certain jobs , mannual labour is needed every.

  2. Talk to any person working in human resources and they will tell you how difficult is to find highly educated skilled workers with critical thinking. The skilled ones do better leaving this country, where standard of life is rampantly low. Educational system is also very bad: millions of children and teenagers learning nothing in the schools. The problem is deeper, but oligarchies feel comfortable when the country sends 1 million filipinos abroad per year who are gonna send back million of pesos to be spent in their malls and condos. Perfect.

  3. A major problem with getting a job locally is the recruitment process. Government positions (yes, even your workers at city hall) usually go with nepotism, saving positions for family members who are about to graduate or recently got out of a job. Private companies on the other hand, rely on human resource staff, where a big bulk of them usually just utilize the “who you know” protocol to get people in. A few still rely on objective/technical interviews though.
    Oh, and whoever gave the authority to have schools teach critical subjects like math and science in tagalog/taglish way back the late 90’s is a fucking moron.

  4. How come many skilled Filipino workers weren’t admitted for jobs in this country because of being not qualified enough but when they apply jobs in other countries (with better benefits and salary), they were known as great workers? I think HR here are more discriminating in hiring their own fellowmen.

    1. I would digress on saying HR here are more discriminating in hiring their own fellowmen.

      Problem is not on the capability per se of the local workforce but rather on the the pay the companies are willing to give for the qualifications they are requiring. And it is laughable how we are faring on this ratio.

      This country has so few industries and such a large workforce. No wonder majority are ok with pennies on the dollar. The oligarchy and communists here literally have the populace by the necks.

      Add to that the huge cut this government takes more commonly known as “income tax”. And the ever bludgeoning cost of living in this country. People with the slightest common sense would just give up and go elsewhere.

      For those that chose to stay here more for reasons out of spite. They are simply being bled dry of their soul until such a time they should fall into the wheels of corruption.

      It is a sad sad state.

  5. Things to be given a thought by local HRs and headhunters.

    Age – it doesn’t really matter with how one will perform on his job as long as one is healthy, not unless the job’s major description is “able to do 52k marathons in under 3 hours.

    Religion and/or sect – why is this needed? Unless the job is for a pastor/priest/rabbi, etc.

    Pleasing personality / attractive, etc – when the work calls for 9 to 5 daily stint in front of a computer, who cares, as long as the job gets done.

    Good scholastic records / reputable school – a good grade during college or high school is not indicative of how one will perform on his job, unless he will be teaching.

    Most of the time the people hiring/interviewing an applicant just have their priorities a bit skewed, and these “unqualified” people end up with the wrong jobs or as OFWs or worse unemployed.

  6. lol why are you generalizing everyone in the Philippines. I thought you are the one who is against generalization.

    Hate generalizing but keeps on generalizing

    ano ba talaga kuya

    magbilang ka na lang jan ng kangaroo

  7. “educated English-speaking folk”

    Can you elaborate? At least it’s not just English proficiency again.

  8. I’d go for the “Educate the Workforce” route.

    It seems many of the poor are CONTENT and COMFORTABLE with poverty and suffering… and many are ignorant of the fact that they can change their situation through smart work (many don’t understand by heart that they can work to earn better lives if they decide to learn how).

    Educate and Inspire people that they have the power to earn better skills on their own and build their own businesses to rise above poverty and earn wealth…

    …instead of just complaining about how the government doesn’t just give them a mansion and P10 million each.
    (The “the government is corrupt and that’s why I’m poor” mindset boils down to that, I believe. Instead of taking responsibility for their own lives [at magsikap ng maayos], it’s easier to just blame the government for their self-imposed problems.)

    It may sound callous, but that’s reality. Everyone is responsible for taking care of their own lives. Not “the government” and not “the rich.”

    The most important thing that the poor and unemployed needs is enough inspiration and education to let them earn their own wealth.

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