BLE meets with ILO experts on improving employment forecasting

18 January 2023 — In pursuit of promoting decent work in the Philippines through policy and program development based on timely and accurate labor market information (LMI), the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) invited experts from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to review its labor market analysis and employment facilitation and promotion initiatives, and discuss employment forecasting methodologies on 18 January 2023 at the BLE office in Intramuros, Manila.

Employment Specialist of the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific, Phu Hyunh, Senior Programme Officer Ma. Concepcion Sardaña and Programme Assistant Stephanie Jaurigue of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines sat down with the Bureau to explain different approaches and strategies to improve the BLE’s support services to its stakeholders.

Mr. Hyunh discussed key points and methodology on employment forecasting, pointing out its main objectives of identifying the future structure of the labor market, projecting the future supply of skilled workforce, and providing policy insights on declining and emerging sectors and occupations. Forecasting must involve the assessment of future anticipated shortages or excess of workforce, and identify mechanisms to reconcile supply and demand imbalances, including recommendations for skills training systems.

In his discussion, he emphasized the importance of combining methodologies to produce better results in the long-term (on average), and ensuring alignment with objectives, resources, data constraints, and technical capacity. He reminded the Bureau to prioritize the sustainability and simplicity of forecasts, recognizing their benefits and limitations, to engage stakeholders and clients and ensure usage.

Ms. Sardaña urged the Bureau to set-up a core team charged with employment forecasting vis-à-vis intra- and inter-agency collaborations (i.e., with the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority among others). The core team, according to her, must be profiled in terms of educational background and skills, so that they may be further capacitated towards forecasting and anticipation works.

Ms. Grace Baldoza, Chief of the BLE’s Labor Market Information Division, shared some initiatives of the Bureau in terms of employment and labor market forecasting including the ongoing updating of the Philippine Standard Occupational Classification (PSOC), its proposals on the utilization of Big Data analytics in support of its LMI systems, and the upcoming release of of the Bureau’s flagship LMI report, the Jobs and Labor Market Forecast Report 2023-2028. Ms. Ana Liza Ragos, Chief of the Program Management Division, explained the details of the Bureau’s planned assessment of youth employability programs and digital labor market intermediaries.

In response, the experts from ILO provided recommendations and relevant reference materials to assist the Bureau’s technical team. They further offered their services in reviewing the report and proposals discussed.

Director Patrick P. Patriwirawan, Jr. thanked the Bureau’s long-time collaborators in the ILO for their time and sharing their expertise with the BLE staff. He pledged to create an Employment Forecasting Team under the Employment Analytics Unit of the Labor Market Information Division, as part of the Bureau’s restructuring this 2023. He stressed the Bureau’s commitment to improving its LMI and employment facilitation services, especially in light of the pandemic and the rapid transformations it triggered in the labor market.