Technology is the new enabler in the job market
MAY 1, 20213 MINUTE READ
Before the pandemic, the Philippines was a dynamic and growing economy that performed better than some of its peers in Southeast Asia in a number of economic and social indicators.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), from 2008 to 2014, the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) averaged 5.4 percent, outperforming both the OECD average and a number of ASEAN economies.
On the other hand, the Philippine Statistics Authority report published in January 2020 showed the country’s GDP posted a year-on-year growth of 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, resulting in the 5.9 percent full-year growth for 2019.
Trade and Repair of Motor Vehicles, Motorcycles, Personal and Household Goods; Manufacturing; and Construction were the main drivers of growth for the fourth quarter of 2019. Among the major economic sectors, services posted the fastest growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 7.9 percent. The industry grew by 5.4 percent. Agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing registered a growth of 1.5 percent, the PSA said.
Poverty reduction targeted
With these numbers, the government’s economic team targeted to reduce poverty to 14 percent of the population by 2022. The target was for the Philippines to be classified as a middle-income country with the completion of the Build, Build, Build flagship project of the current administration.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw away whatever progress was made. The community quarantine measures effectively shut down major sectors of the economy and had an immediate and sweeping impact on employment.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the pandemic had significant impacts on the labor market, including massive job losses and unemployment, a decline in labor force participation, and reduction in hours worked. For a country with inadequate social protection, displaced workers could not afford to remain unemployed and were forced to look for other employment opportunities in the agriculture or informal sector.
In a press conference held on December 3, 2020, the government confirmed the country suffered the worst job losses in 15 years due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. About 4.5 million Filipinos have lost their jobs in 2020, with the unemployment rate at 10.4 percent. The prolonged wet season last year and the string of four typhoons inflicted significant employment loss in agriculture and therefore aggravated the employment situation.
In the latter half of October, the country was hit by Typhoons Nika, Ofel, Pepito, and Quinta, which contributed to the reduction of agriculture employment by 1.1 million, or about 70 percent of the 1.5 million jobs lost between July and October, according to a report from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Workers in the provinces also faced difficulty in returning to work given inter-province transport restrictions and this contributed to the 0.5 million loss in the industry sector, the NEDA report added.
Despite the grim scenario in the labor sector, there were indications that the job market was slowly picking up in the new normal. With the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the entire island of Luzon, the majority of organizations implemented policies to ensure employee welfare and business continuity to minimize impact during the crucial period.
These policies included work-from-home arrangements, mostly for their corporate office-based employees across industries, while those in operations adopted a skeletal workforce or split operations arrangement.
Thirty-five percent of these companies are largely from the Shared Services Outsourcing and Financial Services industries according to a survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading advisory, broking and solutions company.
Of the participating companies that have adopted the work-from-home arrangements, 56% implemented either an Internet or a mobile plan assistance to ensure their employees are connected and able to work seamlessly. For organizations with employees working in operations, most are still operating under “business-as-usual” by providing support to employees with transportation and accommodation as required by the government especially for BPO companies.
Technology as enabler
The pandemic has definitely disrupted the way organizations conduct their business with their operational effectiveness being challenged in unprecedented ways. These companies have learned to adopt modern technology which has become an enabler of resilience and competitive advantage.
Today, more and more companies have the new normal remote work set up and are progressively providing for their people.
With companies in the country – and all over the world – asking their employees to work from home, remote work has become the new normal for global businesses and enterprise employers.