While the Philippine economy shrank a record 9.5 percent in 2020, the improvements in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of the year with the smaller contraction of -8.3 percent was seen as an indicator of economic recovery amidst the lingering effects of COVID-19.

From the imposition of community lockdowns and disruption of business operations in March, the government’s resolve on the implementation of the “Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Recover” (PDITR) strategy, provision of safety-net and income support programs to workers and businesses, and the gradual re-opening of the economy ushered in the country’s improved economic performance.

As the economy further re-opens and quarantine levels in the country are eased, hard-hit sectors such as that of industry, agriculture, and services will continue to recoverwith more and more Filipinos finding gainful employment in the succeeding months.

As part of the Task Group on Economic Recovery, the Department of Labor and Employment, in partnership with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry, sets in motion the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), an Expanded Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan Blueprint for Decent Employment and Entrepreneurship in the New Normal. Anchored on a number of existing frameworks such as the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, ReCharge.PH, International Labor Organization’s four pillars of decent work, the NERS hopes to contribute to the whole-of-government action plan on protecting and strengthening both businesses and workers as investments drive employment that is instrumental in the country’s recovery.

It is hoped that DOLE programs on employment facilitation, support to MSMEs, and sustainable livelihood programs will contributeto the recovery of the labor market back to its pre-pandemic situation, preservation of existing jobs, businesses, and livelihood, promotion of safe and protected workplaces, and adaption of a future-proofworkforce responding to the market demands of the New Normal.

With the government’s commitment in containing the pandemic and safeguarding the interests of our workers and businesses, the economy will continue to recover into a better normal and have the capacity to absorb displaced, re-entrants, and new entrants to the labor market. In previous speaking engagements with relevant stakeholders, Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay enjoined Filipinos to not waver in their perseverance as we turn our setbacks from the previous year into opportunities towards a healthy and resilient Filipino workforce here and overseas.