THE Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP), the largest group of private employers, said Thursday it will work to develop “more balanced” policies on job security and worker protections, on the same week the Security of Tenure Bill made its way through the legislature.

The group also issued a resolution to address possible job losses due to new technologies which it said can be mitigated by helping the work force develop new skills.

On the second day of the 40th National Employers Conference, participants grappled with “creative” and “innovative” practices in business and employment informed by technological advances, and cited the need to ensure inclusive growth.

This year ECoP resolved that “employers… must collaborate with all social partners in developing more balanced policies that will ensure the employment security and social protection of workers, and at the same time ensure sustainability, competitiveness, and responsiveness to rapidly changing global economic, geopolitical and technological developments.”

ECoP said employers must “adopt more creative strategies” such as “massive up-skilling and re-skilling, more proactive industry collaboration, genuine representation in curriculum formation, and the promotion of a mindset for life-long learning that will develop a truly competitive and highly skilled work force in order to mitigate threats of job losses and skills obsolescence due to technological advancement, changing market conditions and consumer behavior, and other influences.”

Employers are gearing up for a potential showdown over the Security of Tenure Bill, which hopes to crack down on “endo” or “end-of-contract,” an employment practice that denies a worker a pathway to permanent employment, typically by terminating employment before six months, the maximum period for probationary employment status under law. Employers have raised concerns that the law will unduly crack down on all forms of contractual employment, making operations less efficient, raising the risk of job losses, and scaring away investors.

ECoP also agreed that employers “must continue to help alleviate poverty and unemployment by engaging all stakeholders through social dialogues in crafting policies… that will translate GDP into inclusive growth.”

The employers also resolved to develop a “modus vivendi… to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs in the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector.”

They said “employers must foster responsible business conduct and corporate social responsibility by complying with labor laws and standards and adhering to international standards and frameworks.”

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III represented Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III at the event.

Reading Mr. Bello’s speech, Mr. Lagunzad said: “We need to upgrade, adjust, and retool our technical and vocational education and training programs as emerging jobs will necessitate new and upgraded skills and competencies.”

He added that strengthening apprenticeship programs “provides a faster and more flexible way for both governments and enterprises to meet higher levels of cognitive and manual skills demanded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” — Arjay L. Balinbin