By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star), April 24, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The government should reassess the structure of the employment facilitation component of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to address the low take-up and meager contribution to the manpower needs of the country, state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said in a discussion paper.
The government implements the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) under the 4Ps social safety net program to assist beneficiaries in finding and sustaining livelihood. The SLP has two components, the microenterprise development (MD) track and the employment facilitation (EF) track.
The MD track utilizes a microcredit financing scheme whereas the EF track facilitates the employment of participants through job matches and skills trainings. The two tracks aim to sustain the economic development of participating families and enable them to transition from a lifestyle of survival to self-sufficiency.
The PIDS paper said as of December 2015, the number of families participating in the SLP was placed at 963, 978, representing around 22 percent of the total number of families enrolled in the 4Ps as of August 2015. Out of the families placed under the SLP, 86 percent have chosen to participate in the MD track while only 14 percent opted to pursue the EF track.
PIDS said the EF track of the SLP track should be developed more because it is a more sustainable means of securing livelihood.
“Efforts to develop the employment facilitation track for the poor are being heightened because of the lower risk that is associated with employment as compared with microenterprise. It must be noted, however, that in order to improve the EF track, it is necessary to have a closer look at the program design and implementation,” PIDS said.
4Ps beneficiaries have the liberty to choose the SLP track they want to participate in. Research involving data analysis and key informant interviews show, however, that several factors hinder beneficiaries from choosing employment.
SLP orientations are provided by field program development officers (PDOs) to targeted beneficiaries. Other than providing information, these orientations also serve as a venue for the participants to assess their skills and select the SLP track best suited to them. Thus, these orientations are crucial to the success of the program.
In sites studied, however, such orientations are only conducted during the family development sessions (FDS) on employment the schedule of which are controlled by the host cities and municipalities. This causes delay in the progress of the program.
“The perceived delays in the service delivery, meanwhile, could tempt the PDOs to encourage the selection of the MD track over the EF track,” PIDS said.
In all of the sites visited, it was also observed that the choice of SLP track is dependent on those who participated on the orientation. PIDS noted it is usually not the young participants who attend the orientations but their parents. This may cause mismatching in the SLP program appropriate for beneficiaries.
PDOs also influence the selection of SLP tracks. Based on their own assessment of the company requirements and qualifications of beneficiaries, they may no longer introduce the EF option.
Beneficiaries who choose the EF track would be given pre-employment counseling, skills training, referral, pre-employment assistance fund and cash for building livelihood assets.
Most of those who choose the MD track are mothers who cannot leave their families at home, those who have lost eagerness to look for work, and parents who could no longer find work because of their age. Those who choose the EF track, on the other hand, are mostly the children of 4Ps beneficiaries and fathers who can still do hard labor.
PIDS said the EF track also suffers from weak employment partnerships. PDOs are also given a huge volume of caseloads. This year, a PDO handles an average of 229 caseloads; this should be reduced said PIDS.
“Given the greater effort to find jobs than to establish microenterprise projects and the average number of participants handled by SLP PDOs, they tend to direct participants to choose the MD track. The MD track is also the default program for participants provided with skills training that are not linked to specific jobs,” PIDS said.
The policy research institute thus suggests that the EF track be improved through strengthened employment partnerships within national government programs and private manpower services. PIDS recommends that DSWD work closely with the Department of Labor and Employment to take advantage of its employment programs.
PIDS also recommends that more attention be given to employment- directed trainings be given more attention as this results to gainful employment that can be kept for the long term.