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Philippines: Job skills boost confidence, build peace in Zamboanga

ILO, Manila, 14 November 2016 - The Zamboanga siege in 2013 had an impact on lives and livelihoods. With the support of the UN PBSO, the ILO focused on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. Young people were provided skills training and are employed at the Garden Orchid Hotel Zamboanga, which also helped address skills mismatch in the city and the hotel industry.

Rijal Ibrahim Rasul was forced to drop out of school to sell fish with his father. His family lost their livelihood after the Zamboanga siege. The eldest among three children, Rijal hopes to find a better job to support his family.

“It was hard to find a decent job. I lost my confidence after applying on several jobs. I felt I was also discriminated as a Muslim. I was forced to accept whatever work is available or to borrow money for my family to survive,” said the 23-year old Rijal from Sta. Catalina.

The mere thought of gun shots and the trauma experienced during the siege still makes Jewelyn cry. The 20-year old Jewelyn Baguio also lost their source of income and relied on the help of the government after the siege.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been involved in helping families displaced by the conflict since 2013. With funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) , the ILO focused on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities together with the Food and Agriculture Organization and worked with the government, employers and workers organizations. Under public-private partnership, the ILO engaged industry partners such as the Garden Orchid Hotel Zamboanga  for skills training.

“The siege affected the whole city. People suffered and communities were burned to the ground. The impact on families and their livelihood was beyond imaginable. Zamboanga is our home and we have to help,” said Bryan Tan Go, Manager of the Garden Orchid Hotel Zamboanga .

In partnership with the ILO, the hotel developed a Food and Beverage Skills Training Programme to equip young people like Rijal and Jewelyn with knowledge and skills, as well as to help them develop a positive mindset and boost their confidence.

A total 44 participants completed the skills training. Vulnerable people like women, youth and indigenous peoples were given priority. The partnership was also an opportunity to address job-skills mismatch.

“It is vital to match skills training with the demands of employers. Bringing together partners is vital towards rebuilding after the conflict. Beyond encouraging employers to invest in skills and helping young people find decent work, this partnership is an opportunity to support peacebuilding efforts and to work together to find durable solutions,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Rijal’s employment at the Café of the hotel  helped him to gain confidence and to support his family. Jewelyn, on the other hand, said that the income she earns from the hotel allowed her to provide for the needs of her baby, while her husband finds employment. More than that, the training also allowed her to overcome the trauma and to help her community rise from the conflict.


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