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Philippines: Boosting entrepreneurship to ease jobs crisis

One third of the Philippines population live in poverty, and thousands head out every day to work abroad. The ILO is promoting entrepreneurship as an alternative to hard-to-get wage jobs and migration.

Feature | 16 July 2012
SIBAGAT, Philippines (ILO News) – Jayson Canete wanted to pursue a degree in engineering after he graduated from high school, but he had to quit school at 19 to help support his family. He took whatever job was available, working as a laboratory assistant and at a fast food restaurant. “I felt hopeless because I could not find regular work,” he said.

But he got another chance.

Together with another 30 young people, he took part in an ILO entrepreneurship training programme last year. Now he plans to start his own business, raising pigs.

“The programme helped me assess what kind of business would succeed. I decided to put up a small piggery because I won’t need to spend the whole day attending to the livestock and can do other work as well,” said Mr. Canete. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will provide a start-up capital of 15,000 pesos (US$353). Such programmes have a key role to play in a country where one third of the 95 million population live in poverty, and often cannot finish school or find a regular job.

And, like Mr. Canete, many young people need to work to help feed their families and send their younger siblings to school.

Stay home, start your own business

The entrepreneurship training Canete received is part of the "Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth" joint programme, which aims to encourage young people to take advantage of opportunities close to home rather than flocking to Manila or abroad. The project is implemented through the ILO, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and DOLE.

The Philippines ranks among the world’s top exporters of labour. In 2010, a total of 1.1 million Filipinos – not including seafarers – headed abroad for work, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). That translates into about 3,000 people leaving every day. The ILO estimates that youth – in the 15 to 24 age group – make up more than a third of these migrant workers.

“As an alternative to wage employment, young Filipinos need to embrace and embark on entrepreneurship at an early age,” Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said recently.

Besides pig farming, other viable plans for small-scale entrepreneurship include convenience stores, fish vending and internet cafes.

Local instructors trained by the ILO will provide counselling, consultancy and mentoring services for the beneficiaries during the implementation of their projects.

The programme focuses on four of the Philippines’ poorest provinces – Masbate, Antique, Maguindanao and Agusan del Sur – where the incidence of out-of-school and poor youth is high and school enrolment rates are low. Ms. Baldoz called on private sector partners to promote entrepreneurship, support vocational training and adopt apprenticeships and on-the-job training programmes to address the issues of youth employment and migration.

Por Kara Santos, IPS Asia-Pacific reporter