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This study utilized a mixed-method research design, incorporating key informant interviews, desk reviews, and data analyses from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and other government agencies. This study looked into the employment generation of ecozones across the years. PEZA statistics indicated a rising employment trend in ecozones over the past decade, peaking in 2022 with 1.862 million workers, nearly double the initial figure of 909,266 in 2012. Demographically, ecozone employment consists of females, Filipino nationals, and regular employees directly hired by locators. Region-wise, the National Capital Region leads with 766,286 jobs, followed by Regions IV (524,481), VII (239,742), III (92,140), and VI (52,596) as of April 2023. Some factors contributing to this growth include technological advancements, increased demand for certain products, and plans for technology transfer, particularly in the manufacturing and IT sectors.

However, challenges lie ahead in sustaining employment generation, mainly due to labor market bottlenecks resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The changing world of work demands digital skills, AI proficiency, and cybersecurity expertise. Apart from this, workers in the IT industry increasingly prefer alternative work arrangements, pushing some locators to shift to another Investment Promotion Agency since PEZA employs a 70-30 ratio of onsite and work-from-home setup. It also seemed that there is a gap in courses offered in training and higher education institutions vis-à-vis the needs in the labor market. Moreover, spatial mismatch and the rigidity of educational institutions near economic zones contribute to this gap. Thus, this study sought the importance of reinventing employment facilitation services in the country.

Keywords: ecozone, employment generation, emerging jobs, labor market bottlenecks
RESEARCHERS: Frances Camille G. Dumalaog | Bernard Paul B. Mangulabnan | Diether B. Navarosa | Angel Faye G. Castillo

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