Exploitation is not a gratification.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in the country rose from 8.1% or 3.88 million Filipinos to 8.9% or 4.25 million Filipinos from November 2021 to September that year. Shifting to remote working due to the nationwide lockdown caused multiple shocks including disruptions in education and training, employment and earnings, and increased job search constraints for vulnerable people like the youth and informal workers. More and more companies have turned to overly exploit them, particularly in our country, capitalizing on the vulnerable people’s naivety and unfortunate circumstances.
Some foreign companies that employ Filipino job seekers for business processing outsourcing (BPO) work offer low pay that is below the minimum wage and refuse to provide the same benefits as their domestic workers. Sick pay is entitled to permanent employees, but many have had their contracts altered to floating status. Those who are unable to work are regarded as disposable and are not supported financially. Those who can work are put in hazardous situations, without taking the necessary precautions.
Experienced professionals are often asked about their expected salary and they instantly know their worth because of their background. But for the vulnerable people, any amount is decent as long as they are earning. We cannot blame them for accepting low salaries that serve as the only way for them to survive, pay their bills and help their families.
As individuals who only want to provide and sustain the needs of their household, Jake and Mila Leah belong to these vulnerable people. They are willing to work day and night and shed blood and tears for their loved ones. Not knowing that their skills and services are already taken advantage of by greedy companies for their profit and sales.
Jake is a 22-year-old second-year high school dropout and continued his studies through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). He is currently a college student taking his bachelor’s degree at Bacolod City College. Jake is seeking a job to afford his special subjects and graduate with a diploma.
Mila Leah is a 48-year-old who lost her job as a saleslady-in-charge at Rock Silver Store due to store closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a single mother of two kids and has no other person to rely on for their needs. She is currently gaining her daily income from her small business and hopes to be employed to have a sustainable income.
To enable the youth and help combat unjust labor practices, the Negrosanon Young Leaders Institute, Inc. together with the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation supported by Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, launched an initiative called Youth Employment Enrichment Solutions (YEES) – a career literacy workshop held at the New Government Center last August 5, 2022, that intends to assist job-seeking youth on how to develop 21st essential workplace skills, understand existing labor laws and master the tips and techniques on how to qualify on job interviews. Mr. Jomar Borromeo, Mr. Seth Pullona, and Ms. Allourine Cabrera from NYLI served as instructors on the major topics discussed in the workshop. The workshop ended with a mock interview to let the participants experience a real-time job interview assisted by the NYLI trainers.
Jake and Mila Leah are some of the remarkable participants in the workshop. Jake came as an early bird listed on the top of the attendance sheet. Mila Leah was the most active participant in the workshop; she asks many questions and engages attentively in idea-sharing despite being the eldest participant.
“This workshop helped me a lot because it taught me how to prepare before undergoing a job application. It taught me how to stay calm, release tension, and maintain stress-free to ace the interview. And of course, it taught me the importance of strengthening communication skills in securing a job vacancy,” Jake said.
“I recommend this workshop to the youth, especially to those who are first-time job seekers. It will help them to come prepared, fully equipped, and presentable when showing up for an interview. You should take this kind of opportunity while you can because it will help you a lot in the future,” Mila Leah added.
As an extension of YEES, NYLI together with SK Federation and PESO Bacolod conducted a Youth Job Fair attended by 225 youth applicants held at the New Government Center last Aug. 12, 2022. As of now, 160 youth applicants received assistance, 15 youth applicants are hired, and more or less 100 youth applicants are scheduled for further interviews. NYLI, SK Federation, and PESO Bacolod are still planning to launch more youth job fairs to accommodate more youth job seekers and help them land a job in a healthy workplace and financially secured employment./Lordvy Marie Rio, WVSU Intern