“Our workers are among the most important sectors of the economy. They produce our food, goods, and essential products. They also provide the crucial and necessary services we need on a daily basis.”

This was the statement of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles last Friday, February 5, 2021 at the ceremonial signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular creating the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Task Force, which aims to uplift the condition of the labor sector hard hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In stressing the urgency of the initiative, the Malacañang official cited figures from the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing 420,000 workers lost their jobs in 2020, resulting in a 10.2% unemployment rate last year.

To address the unemployment situation, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have begun coordinating on integrating their employment, livelihood and training programs to bolster the Philippine economy.

“Our National Employment Recovery Strategy or the NERS 2021-2023 will address access to jobs and livelihood programs, create retraining opportunities to improve employability, and do refocusing of jobs to cope with the needs of the current pandemic,” Nograles explained.

The Cab Sec further noted that the Fiscal Year 2021 national budget will be used to jumpstart the economy through, among others, an intensification of the administration’s Build, Build, Build Program which will create 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs.

At the JMC signing, the following agencies committed their personnel and resources to accomplish the NERS goals: DTI, DOLE and TESDA, as well as the CHED, DAR, DA, DepEd, DENR, DICT, DILG, DPWH, DOST, DSWD, DOT, DOTr, NSC and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

“The signatory and partner agencies are all in agreement that we need to support the Filipino worker during these challenging times with programs that are immediate in implementation and comprehensive in scope. This is a shared, all-out effort which we’re also coordinating with the private sector because we want as wide a participation from stakeholders and policy makers as possible,” Nograles stressed.###

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