When any business or corporation needs to cut back on costs, the only variable it adjusts is the labor. Never will you see prices significantly going down, or production quota being reduced: it’s always the wages that are rolled back, and the employment that is slashed off. This is how the adult world of labor greets our college graduates: Welcome, fresh meat of 2010! Reality, it bites!
To seek career jobs post-graduation is a long and arduous struggle, and yet fully committing to it doesn’t ensure positive results for the democratic majority. I’m pretty sure we don’t need to further splash colors onto the painted picture of labor realities. But let me illustrate to you that, despite the seeming scarcity of available work, the problematic state of Philippine society and politics screams of the fact that there is much work to be done.
In such a context where the state deliberately maintains a huge surplus of labor (read: lots of unemployed bums) to serve as a constant supply of cheap hires for transnational corporations, perhaps a change of perspective is needed for our graduates. I strongly believe that instead of seeking for “American dream” kinds of jobs, our graduates should look for non-mainstream jobs that seek to address the roots of unemployment and other social crises.
With that, might I dish out a couple of suggestions:
- Volunteer for a Non-Government Organization (NGO). Chances are, these institutions are looking for volunteers to help in various advocacy that include labor welfare, human rights, science and technology, agriculture, and the environment, among others. Given their non-profit nature, most NGOs do not have career-level salaries, at most probably just subsistence-level pay. But think of it this way: NGOs are not lucrative financial-wise (at least, the legitimate and genuine ones) but are active in transforming society into genuinely democratic systems.
Strategically, NGO work will lead to better employment opportunities for all. But it won’t be able to address the systemic problems of society alone. It is capable, however, of making short-term differences to beneficiary communities and institutions. An example would be the one I’m volunteering in, the Computer Professionals’ Union. We need volunteers to help monitor the elections. Why not start there?
- Run for a position in government under the banner of New Politics. I remember Kabataan Partylist Rep. Mong Palatino enjoining the youth to bring the comprehensive people’s agenda in politics. Why not coalesce with these progressive political forces and run yourself? You can start political reform at the local level, so why not run for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) positions?
While you won’t be making money the way trapos do, you are at least self-sufficient and contributory to the same strategic goals that NGOs have. By genuinely representing and addressing your constituents’ concerns, you can have a pretty stable career path. Speaking of genuine representation, why not start by volunteering for the progressive political coalition Makabayan?
The key to these two ventures, however, are their links to the general mass movement that seeks long-term social reforms. Do not be drawn to the dark side of Bureaucrat Capitalism (politics for profit) or even NGO Capitalism (NGO work for profit). You might be able to get a comfortable life in the present, but these practices give the future an definite tinge of uncertainty. Think about the children. And the polar bears.