Apply ‘apprenticeship’ in education, not labor
Should we break the champagne and celebrate the number of our billionaires in Forbes Magazine’s 2011 list which has doubled, asked Roberto de Ocampo. (“Thrust of anti-trust,” Inquirer, 7/30/11) He then highlighted statistics showing that “a minuscule percentage of people own and control” the lion’s share of the nation’s wealth: 11 billionaires = 13 percent of Philippine GDP; the 40 richest = 20 percent of Philippine GDP.
“Inclusive growth remains elusive.” Why is that? To paraphrase De Ocampo, there are put-down practices and inconsistent state policies that have been implemented. These practices and policies create an uneven playing field that favors vested interest and special groups.
My repeated contention is that these structural practices are so subtle you don’t even realize you have been had. To top it all, the ordinary Filipino psyche is made to believe that the Filipino is worthless and not good enough, so it tolerates the immature practices of employers. One such practice is the “apprenticeship system” that has Filipino workers laid off before they complete six months and then rehired after a certain period has passed, then laid off again and rehired again in endless cycle—to avoid the payment of legally mandated benefits such as the 13th month pay, SSS, PhilHealth, pensions, bonuses, even salary increases; all that money going instead to the employers who become wealthier at their workers’ expense. (In the true spirit of the word, apprenticeship is tied to education, not to labor.) Apprenticeship ironically favors big business, which has institutionalized it such that training is no longer a cost factor in the equation. This is a case of government policy gone awry in favor of vested interest. The thing is, labor strikes and other detrimental labor practices became so rampant years ago that business distorted the true spirit of apprenticeship to what it is today. Government should make apprenticeship part of education and remove it from labor. Big business should mature and see virtue in not treating ordinary Filipino so callously and selfishly, giving them their true worth. Ordinary Filipino workers should also mature and learn to listen to sense rather than to ideology.
Potential capital (savings beyond basic needs to give ordinary Filipinos the means to become entrepreneurs) therefore cannot be accumulated because the distorted apprenticeship system is stacked in favor of big business and against ordinary workers.
—JACQUELINE CANCIO VEGA,
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