Thursday, August 05, 2010

Philippine employment dilemma: Dumb down the jobs? Or smarten up the workforce?

The Philippines is imprisoned by a deep systemic inability in its people to extricate themselves from poverty. It is a problem that is an outcome of (1) the sheer number of Filipinos that inhabit the planet, (2) the average productive output of each warm Filipino body earning (or seeking to earn) a living, and (3) the general attractiveness of quality of life outside of the Philippines. The following challenges with respect to these three aspects of our dire situation easily reveal themselves...

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Law of supply and demand

Everything from how high wages can be set to the way and quality that workers are treated is subject the the law of supply-and-demand. The reality is, there is an over-supply of takers for work under the most atrocious conditions -- impoverished unskilled workers from countries like the Philippines and similar ratholes in Africa and the Subcontinent.

Productivity

Labour productivity is a function of both skill and capital. Workers with the right skills, equipment and tools (whether they be computers or power tools) can do more for less effort. Five Japanese builders can build a house in less time applying far less effort than an army of Filipino builders on a similar project. With skill too comes access to work that pays better. Said work pays better because workers competent enough to do them are more scarce.

Mobility of scarce workers

More options for workers who possess skills that are in demand means such workers can choose. Many of them opt with their feet -- marching towards countries where they are better rewarded for their trouble.

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An Associated Press report confirms the trend...
Scientists, engineers, doctors, IT specialists, accountants and even teachers are among the English-speaking talent heading to foreign lands, leaving the government and private companies scrambling to find replacements.

Note one of the personal assets in these classes of workers that was highlighted: English-speaking talent. Trouble is, this is a highly-politicised issue that is deadlocked in a country where all the wrong arguments win.

The often-sloganeered "issue" of a "lack of employment" in the Philippines is a mis-nomer. The jobs are there, but...
A Labour Department study in 2008 found that despite a huge domestic workforce, many positions for skilled workers were going unfilled because there were not enough qualified applicants.

In short, Filipinos simply fail to step up to the work that already exists within the country. But then those that do also find doors opening for them elsewhere.

Chicken-and-egg. Do we dumb down demand to accomodate a dumb workforce? Or do we smarten up the workforce so they have a shot at filling demand that currently exists?

The winners -- educated English-speaking folk -- take all either way.

3 comments:

  1. I'm currently in hiring mode for my staff. All my target applicants have chosen to either stay working where they are or in transition to working for more progressive companies. My staff member advised me to give anybody of the 80% the chance. I already settled before for employees like the 80% and they ended up not evolving on the job. I even got headaches managing them. Some did evolve like that advising staff member. Some who evolved still left for better opportunities so I let them go. It was about time. I am where I am 'cause I tried evolving and succeeded kaya I won't settle for the 80% who will just settle for food on the table. I just hope I get the deserving replacement to my old staff members that I so deserve to have.

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  2. I've never really been interested in managing people. Trouble is, it's hard to climb up the corporate ladder without having to manage people at some point in the process...

    It does take a lot of effort to train people. So when there is a high turnover rate in a business, that's a sure sign of trouble. Lots of effort being spent on training people only to see all that capital walk out the door when people leave.

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  3. to the guild: About your sentence of HOPE -- "...hope I get the deserving replacement to my old staff members that I so deserve to have."

    If you have not found a qualified applicant among those who have applied, then you should keep looking. If you have found qualified applicants but they didn't accept the job offer you gave them, then maybe you should increase the compensation package.

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