By Roche M Angon, National Project Coordinator for ILO
MDG Fund Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Work for Filipino Youth
Merly Ybanez dropped out from college in 2008 because her parents cannot pay anymore her school fees. Her mother, who was into small scale buy and sell of agricultural products, became a breadwinner when her father got sick. As the youngest of 6 children, she helped her parents in daily household chores.
To keep herself busy, she became a youth leader of the local church in her hometown in Agusan del Sur. However, she got bored for being idle after sometime. She went to a nearby city to work as a domestic worker. She expected to save from working so she can finish her college education. “I may have reached a college level but I found it difficult to get a better job. I knew I was not qualified because the employers require college graduates. After a while, I left my work though I was treated well by my employer.”
When Merly went back to her hometown, she learned from a community radio about the entrepreneurship training for the out-of-school youth in Agusan del Sur. She seized the opportunity by applying immediately as she also wanted to run her own business. She got inspired by how her mother was able to support her family by venturing into buy and sell of agricultural products. Having own income would mean supporting herself and help her family in the household expenses. “I believed it is better to have a training first before getting into a business to ensure success.”
Merly was one of the 8 young people from her hometown selected to receive training. Youth applicants underwent a selection process, which is part of the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB), an entrepreneurship training programme of ILO.
“I learned how to generate and prioritize business ideas based on the local resources of my community and how to take advantage of the opportunities present.” She drafted a business plan on buy and sell of agricultural products such as sweet potato, banana, coconut and vegetables that are abundant in Agusan del Sur. The SIYB local trainers assessed her business plan as feasible. She is one of the recipients of starter kits in that helped her to establish a microenterprise.
Her learning from the training enabled her to access loan from a local microfinance institution. She learned more about accessing financing sources during the entrepreneurship training when DOLE invited a representative from a local microfinance institution to speak on financing microenterprises. To date, she has availed 3rd cycle of loan. This means she has a good track record in terms of repayment of her previous loans. She used the loans as additional capital to the starter kit she received. It helped her expand her buy and sell business by having a variety store and loading station.
“My small business will help me a lot especially now that I am pregnant. As a young mother, I need to focus on supporting my child. I still aspire to go back to school.” She added that she prefers to stay in her hometown given its entrepreneurship opportunities.
The entrepreneurship training was provided by the International Labour Organization in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur. This is with the support of Spanish funded MDG Fund Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth.
Meanwhile, DOLE has committed to sustain the implementation of entrepreneurship training for the out-of-school youth in Agusan del Sur and other provinces of CARAGA region. “DOLE- CARAGA will prioritize out-of-school youth including those trained in entrepreneurship under the Joint Programme in its livelihood program.” according to Ms Ofelia Domingo, Regional Director of DOLE-CARAGA.
Ms Domingo added that introduction to SIYB will be covered by Pre-Livelihood Seminar of DOLE to be conducted by its regional and provincial offices. This is aligned to its thrust of empowering small and medium entrepreneurs in the region which include young people. In partnership with Public Employment Service Office (PESO), DOLE-CARAGA will also provide employment services to youth provided with technical vocational skills training. These include career guidance and coaching, referral and placement.
The ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network (ASEAN-OSHNET) in collaboration with the ILO/ Korea Partnership Programme organized a ‘Training-of-Trainers’ Workshop on Risk Assessment, Control and Management: Key Components of an Occupational Safety and Health Management System between the 10th and 12th of February 2015.
The aim of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of authorities and social partners in the key components of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) systems to ensure that workers across the region enjoy and healthy and safe workplace. The attendees of the workshop included tripartite representatives from government and workers’ and employers’ organizations from the 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam) as well as Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. The participants shared their experiences and best practices in risk assessment, control and management measures also focusing on OSH in small and medium enterprises, vulnerable employment and the informal economy.
Occupational Safety and Health systems not only have a direct effect on workers but also on the economy as a whole. ‘By taking a close look at working conditions and productivity, we also contribute to the goal of reducing poverty and achieving sustainable and inclusive growth in the region’ said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
The need for increasing efforts in strengthening OSH systems was also stressed by Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The Secretary stated that ‘the conduct of this trainers’ workshop comes at a most auspicious time as it will address the need to intensify the advocacy to have a safe and healthy working environment not only in our respective countries but in in entire ASEAN region including our pacific island partners of Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea’
Since its founding, the ILO has been committed to promoting and supporting Occupational Safety and Health. The ILO Country Office for the Philippines has been working with the government to enhance the labour inspection system and with workers’ and employers’ organizations to build the capacity to deliver OSH services to their members. The ILO has also ensured integration of safety and health into other initiatives such as skills development, enterprise development and post-disaster response.