Our impact, their stories

Job skills boost confidence, build peace in Zamboanga

ILO skills training programme provides decent work opportunities to people affected by the internal conflict in southern Philippines.

Feature | Zamboanga City, Philippines | 24 January 2017
ZAMBOANGA CITY (ILO News) – Rijal Ibrahim Rasul is among those who were affected by the Zamboanga siege in 2013, when hundreds of people were trapped following an armed conflict in the city. Weeks of street battles and numerous fires destroyed homes and forced residents to flee the area located in the Southern part of the Philippines.

Rijal’s employment at the Café of the Garden Orchid Hotel Zamboanga helped him to gain confidence and to support his family.
Photo © M. Rimando / ILO
Rijal, the eldest of three children, was forced to drop out of college to sell fish with his father after his family’s income was impacted by the siege.

“It was hard to find a decent job. I lost my confidence after applying to several jobs. I felt I was also discriminated against as a Muslim. I was forced to accept whatever work was available or borrow money for my family to survive,” said the 23-year-old, who is from Sta. Catalina.

The mere thought of gun shots and the trauma she experienced during the siege still makes Jewelyn Baguio cry. The 20-year old woman also lost her source of income and had to rely on the help of the government after the siege.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been involved in helping families displaced by the conflict since 2013. With funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), the ILO focused on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities together with the Food and Agriculture Organization and worked with the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

The siege affected the whole city. People suffered and communities were burned to the ground. The impact on families and their livelihoods was beyond imaginable."

Bryan Tan Go, Manager of the Garden Orchid Hotel
The ILO is also working with industry partners such as the Garden Orchid Hotel on skills training. Together with the ILO, the hotel developed a food and beverage skills training programme to provide young people like Rijal and Jewelyn with knowledge and skills, help them develop a positive mindset and boost their confidence.

“The siege affected the whole city. People suffered and communities were burned to the ground. The impact on families and their livelihoods was beyond imaginable. Zamboanga is our home and we have to help,” said Bryan Tan Go, Manager of the Garden Orchid Hotel.

Addressing skills mismatch

A total of 44 participants completed the skills training. Vulnerable people such as women, youth and indigenous peoples were given priority. The partnership was also an opportunity to address job-skills mismatch.

“It is crucial to match skills training with the demands of employers. Bringing together partners is essential towards rebuilding after the conflict. Beyond encouraging employers to invest in skills and helping young people find decent work, this partnership is an opportunity to support peacebuilding efforts and to work together to find durable solutions,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Having a decent job for Jewelyn is important since she now has the means to provide for her child and to recover from the trauma after the siege.
Photo © M. Rimando / ILO
Rijal’s employment at the Café of the hotel helped him to gain confidence and support his family.

Jewelyn, on her side, explained that the income she earned from the hotel allowed her to provide for the needs of her baby, while her husband was looking for a job.

Finally, the training made it possible for people like Jewelyn to overcome their trauma and help their communities recover from the conflict.