About 28 million Filipinos, or 40% of the working-age population, are unemployed but are not looking for jobs because they are staying in school for longer, according to a Bloomberg report. Data showed that over 750,000 Filipinos 15 years of age or above quit the workforce last year. According to Ernesto Pernia, economic planning secretary, the majority of young people have not joined the labor force, with boys citing studies as their reason for not working. The trend should produce a better-educated workforce and would be beneficial to the country, which considers its population size as a major economic driver, the Bloomberg report said.
Emilio Neri, a senior economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands in Manila, said families may be keeping their sons in school longer as they benefit from a government cash-transfer program and free tuition at technical and state schools, which allows students to gain more access to tertiary and technical or vocational education. While better education and training can boost the talent pool, the report said the key test is whether the country can create more jobs outside service industries such as call centers and tourism. According to Neri, the challenge is to continue creating opportunities for higher-skilled workers.