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Manila - The Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) participated in the recently concluded Formal Launch and Inception Workshop of the International Labor Organization-European Union (ILO-EU) Project on Strengthening the Impact of Trade on Employment in the Philippines (STRENGTHEN) last October 6-7 at the Kachina Room of Century Park Hotel in Manila.

The two-day event sponsored by the ILO formally introduced to the general public the STRENGTHEN project, whose primary aim and objective is to help the Philippines in leveraging industries that are competitive in international trade towards providing more opportunities for decent work within the country and in raising the number of workers who are productively employed.

A total of about 130 participants from the Philippines took part in the event, comprising of mid-level officials and senior technical specialists from the various departments and agencies (labor, trade, economic planning, skills development) and other relevant government institutions, who contribute to the formulation of national trade and employment policies and representatives from employers’, workers’, exporters’ and SME organizations, among others, whose professional activities are strongly tied to the foreign sector and largely affected by national trade and employment policies.

The ILS, headed by OIC-Executive Director III Ma. Celeste M. Valderrama, co-chaired one of the four Parallel Discussion Groups, particularly on Knowledge Gaps Concerning Trade and Employment (Group A), and likewise chaired and steered the discussions during the Policy Working Group (PWG) meeting during Day 2 of the workshop.

Workshop results revealed a consensus among various partners to prioritize and focus on agri-business under the ILO’s STED (Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification) and TRAVERA (Trade and Value Chains in Employment-Rich Activities) programs. Knowledge gaps concerning trade and employment were also raised by Group A, such as the need for a situational analysis of trade and employment in the Philippines, an impact evaluation of the effects of free trade agreements (FTAs) to the Philippines, and the assessment of labor standards provisions in FTAs, among others.

The ILO, represented by Mr. Bryan Millares Balco, National Project Coordinator for STRENGTHEN, expressed that they would continue their partnership with the DOLE family, especially with regard to TRAVERA and STED. Similarly, the ILO is also revising its Terms of Reference (ToR) in accordance with the suggestions and revisions that were suggested by the Policy Working Group (PWG) during the last day of the workshop. Upon revision of the ToRs, ILO will convene a consultative meeting that will discuss how the STRENGTHEN Project will complement and support the national priorities and objectives of the Philippines in relation to promoting decent and productive employment, SME development and export competitiveness.

The Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) is the policy research and advocacy arm of the Department of Labor and Employment. For more information on this story, please contact the Advocacy and Publications Division at 527-3490.