/ 10 March 2021

THE PHILIPPINE Business for Education asked the government to focus on education and skills training amid the sharp rise of youth unemployment in the country.

Latest data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Tuesday showed that the jobless rate among Filipinos aged 15-30 stood at 19.8 percent in January 2021, equivalent to 1.4 million unemployed youth.

This is higher than the jobless rate of 13.6 percent or 1 million youth recorded during the same period last year.

The data also revealed that unemployment in the country is at 8.7 percent in January 2021, much higher than the 5.3 percent recorded in January 2020.

This is equivalent to 4 million unemployed Filipinos aged 15 and above.

“If we are to address the alarming jump in youth unemployment and chart a course for economic recovery, it is not enough that we only address the Covid19 health crisis. It is equally critical that we respond to acute problems of inaccessibility and poor quality of our education system. We need flexible learning options and a clear plan to safely reopen our schools so that learning can continue, and we need the private sector to take an active role in opening skills training programs that promote employability and offer jobs to the youth,” PBEd Executive Director Love Basillote said.

Basillote added that as the country works on invigorating the economy through the gradual opening of businesses, the government at the same time must ensure that students are still learning the skills they need to join the workforce.

“With millions of students dropping out of school and millions more being unable to learn properly through distance learning, we are ignoring a crucial sector of society who are supposed to be our assets in our path to economic recovery,” she added.

In November 2020, the Department of Education said more than 2.7 million students dropped out.

The PBEd called for the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas where the risk of Covid19 transmission is low to ensure the continuity of learning among Filipino students.

“The Covid19 pandemic and the current learning crisis have created a perfect storm that has disproportionately affected our youth. We need to act with urgency and guarantee that there is still a future they can look forward to,” Basillote said.