MANILA—Stronger support from the private sector is needed in the creation of high-quality and sustainable jobs to improve the lives of Filipinos, according to the National Economic and Development Authority. 

“The private sector holds the key to the generation of high-quality and sustainable jobs that our country needs. A stronger coordination of the government and the academe with them will help us address the unemployment problem that the country is facing,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, in a recent forum organized by the Ayala Foundation, Inc. at the Ayala Museum, Makati City. 

The Cabinet official said that the rate of unemployment is very high, even among college graduates. In January 2013, the National Statistics Office reported that 608,000 people were added to the labor force from the same month last year. However, the number of the employed increased only by 606,000, which means that about 2,000 people were added to the ranks of the unemployed. 

“The rate of unemployment is very high among college graduates, which partly reflects a mismatch between what is produced by schools and what is required by the market. This also shows that there is insufficient conversation between the schools and the firms,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General. 

Also, he added that the government is focusing on providing a catalytic mechanism for the private sector to create these jobs. This is because government resources are limited, with competing demands from various sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, and national security, among others. 

“Government actions should not substitute for the actions of the private sector. We do not want to solve the unemployment problem with a band-aid solution to create jobs,” said Balisacan. 

Furthermore, the Balisacan said that the government is looking into expanding employment opportunities in several priority sectors. These include agri-business, manufacturing, tourism, IT-Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), housing, infrastructure, and logistics. 

“These opportunities can be enhanced through increasing the employability of new job entrants through proper and sufficient training. But higher education institutions must also be encouraged to foster tie-ups with businesses and industries, aside from the government,” said Balisacan. 

He cited current government programs that train new graduates such as the Government Internship Program, Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) and apprenticeship programs with the private sector, among others.