JOBSTART EXPANSION. Lauriele Arce, Department of Labor and Employment regional employment spokesperson says at the Kapehan sa Dabaw press conference on Monday that the Jobstart Philippines program in Davao region will expand to three more areas including Panabo City in Davao del Norte, and Sta. Cruz town and Digos City in Davao del Sur this year. The program aims to provide employability skills to out of school youth. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment in the region is targeting unemployed workers aged 18 to 24 years old as beneficiaries for its Jobstart program in a bid to address job mismatch and unemployment.

In a press conference on Monday, DOLE regional employment spokesperson Lauriele Arce said almost half of the national unemployment rate are youth.

She added that youth who are “not in employment, education and training”  cannot compete with those who finished their education.

“They cannot compete so we will give them an intervention through the Job Start Philippines,” Arce said.

Those who have one year experience or preferably no work experience at all qualifies for the program.

The Jobstart program is a DOLE-initiated program in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency. Arce said the program is implemented by the local government’s Public Employment Service Office and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

She said the program aims to increase the employability skills of the “at risk youth” by giving them access to technical and life skills training which employers demand.

The project piloted last year in Davao region starting in Tagum and Davao City.

“Last year our target was 200 for the first quarter. For this year we have another 600 target,” Arce said.

Arce said with the help of Jobstart the youth can find employment within a year or one and a half year for high school graduates.

Arce said after the graduation, the Jobstarters will undergo a full cycle of employment will undergo 10 days life skills training.

“They will be referred to partner establishments. If they are job ready, they will be employed, but if not, they will undergo another training for three months,” Arce said.

Arce said if the job starters are on-the-job trainees for the partner employers, they will be paid at least 75 percent of the minimum wage.

She added that during trainings, the DOLE provides P200 stipend per day to each job starter.

“And our partner employers, of course, because they spend their time and logistics used for training our Jobstarters, they will be paid P1,000 administration cost per job starter,” she said.

Arce said the payment to partner employers will come from the program fund.

Looking for employers

In an interview with Davao Today, Arce admitted that they are having difficulties in looking for partner employers.

“We stick to the qualification of the job starter, at risk sila eh. So expectedly they are not yet ready for employment. So taas karon ang qualification nga naka-set sa among mga partner employers,” she said.

(We stick to the qualification of the job starter, they are at risk. So expectedly they are not yet ready for employment. So the qualification set by partner employees is high.)

Arce said while there is no discrimination, they are explaining to partner employers that their role is to help at risk youth.

“We got their commitment. But we need more employers,” she said, adding that they need those where the qualification of the job starters will match.

“We can develop their life skills, but we need their hard skills too, to much the need of the employers,” she said.

Labor issues

However, labor organization Kilusang Mayo Uno said while the objective of the Jobstart program is good, it does not fully address the unemployment problem in the country.

Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU said that employers are looking for 18 to 24 years old which are “young and does not yet have a family” to maximize their labor force.

“Let’s ask how much are they paid, what kind of job is it and do they have security of tenure?” Olalo said.

Olalo also said they see it as discrimination for workers aged 25 years and above.

“This is the age group who are looking for jobs because they have families to feed. Those 18 to 24 years old should still be in school to develop themselves,” he said.

Olalo said they hope that the government will push for national industrialization,which is included in the agenda of social and economic reforms that the suspended peace negotiations should address.

“We believe it is only through national industrialization that we can address the unemployment problem in the country,” said Olalo.

Project expansion

Arce said this year they will implement the program in Panabo City in Davao del Norte, and Sta. Cruz town and Digos City in Davao del Sur province.

“We saw that this is a good program so we are expanding our areas. Hopefully by second quarter we can launch our program on those three sites,” Arce said.

Arce said most of their partner employers belong to the wholesale and retail industry, while there are also those from hotels and restaurants, information technology and the business processing management and agricultural industries.

During its first year of implementation, the Jobstart Philippines Program in the region had 100 graduates from Davao City and 119 from Tagum City.

Out if these numbers of graduates, 33 placed on technical training in Davao City and 102 in Tagum City; four trainees from Davao and 51 from Tagum City were absorbed by partner employees; while 50 trainees from Davao and one trainee from Tagum City were placed by non-Jobstart partner employers.

For its second roll out of implementing the program will have 109 graduates from Tagum City on March and 120 graduates in Davao City on the first week of April. (

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