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With Filipino youth as the largest among all age groups in the labor force, it’s no longer surprising that many of them take their chances at landing jobs abroad.

In 2008, 50 percent of the 2.7 million unemployed were youth. They account for 35 percent of the OFW population. Youth, aged 15-24 comprise 20 percent of the population. The Philippines has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world.

To address this pressing problem, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) have joined hands to get to the root of the problem and provide viable solutions.

“An appropriate solution will emanate from knowing how the youth think,” said DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque. “Thus, we created the YOUTHink Sessions arising from the need to consult and dialogue with the youth themselves to come up with a blueprint for a decent and productive employment for young Filipinos.”

What YOUTHink will be heard

The YOUTHink Sessions will be launched on June 23 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Makati. In a departure from tradition, senior officials from the Labor Department will not keynote this activity spearheaded by the DOLE and NYC. Instead, youth activist and legislator Rep. Raymond Palatino of the Kabataan Party-List will give the keynote address.

Palatino, known critic of the outgoing administration, is expected to outline the roots of the youth unemployment problem and propose radical solutions to the new administration.

“We will definitely welcome his views as a duly (re-)elected party-list representative of the youth in the Philippine Congress, inasmuch as we will listen intently to what youth organizations of workers, of OFWs and of communities have to say,” said Roque.

The first in a series of YOUTHink sessions will focus on “Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth”.

The YOUTHink Sessions is supported by United Nation agencies under the Joint Programme on Youth, Employment and Migration, namely: the International Labor Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children Fund and the United National Population Fund.

YOUTHink, they listen

The YOUTHink Sessions is an avenue for government officials, industry practitioners, trade unions, social advocates and the youth themselves – to learn new insights, discuss innovative ideas, share good practices and create solid partnerships that would have an impact in reversing the trend and feeling of idleness and hopelessness among today’s Filipino youth.

Aside from DOLE and NYC, already confirming their participation as observers to the YouThink Sessions, are the Department of Education, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Commission on Women, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Autonomous Regional of Muslim Mindanao, the Provincial governments of Agusan Del Sur, Antique, Masbate and Maguindanao, employers’ organization, workers’ organizations, NGOs and youth organizations.

What YouThink your role is…

YOUTHink will gather youth advocates, generally classified as leaders, movers, shakers and thinkers – all of which are pioneers in the field of youth empowerment.

Leaders are those who have already played a major role in empowering the youth. Movers are pioneers from both the public and private sectors who have innovative ideas and solutions for youth, employment and migration. People who are known for challenging the status quo are called shakers. They will provide alternatives to addressing the same old problems of the past. Meanwhile, thinkers are those advocates who have action plans that would address the core issues of youth employment.

These leaders, movers, shakers and thinkers will serve primarily as facilitators, speakers and motivators for the YOUThink Sessions.

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