A SMALLER proportion of Philippine companies cut or froze employee compensation compared to their peers in the region, according to a study conducted online jobs platform SEEK Asia.

SEEK Asia Chief Executive Officer Peter Bithos said in an interview Tuesday that 38% of Philippine companies froze or reduced pay, including salary and bonuses.

The proportion of Southeast Asian companies that resorted to such steps was between 36 and 55%, putting the Philippines towards the lower end of the range.

“We definitely have seen a hit to compensation around the region,” he said. “Compensation not only for new hires but existing staff has been impacted in a big way and we see that playing out in almost every sector.”

The 10% unemployment reported by the Philippine government is close to the jobless rates reflected in SEEK’s own surveys, he added.

Through platforms JobStreet and jobsDB, SEEK Asia serves Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Mr. Bithos said across Southeast Asia, job opportunities remain at their lowest in the company’s 28 years, but he added that there has been some improvement in the third quarter of 2020.

“Consistent across the region is the quarter that we’re in now — the third quarter of the year is looking to be getting better than the second quarter, than the April and the May timeframe,” he said.

Digital, healthcare, information technology skills are consistently in high demand across the region.

In the Philippines specifically, there are job opportunities in the outsourcing and government sectors.

“(Outsourcing) strength has become an even stronger position in times of COVID-19, because the demand for BPO (business process outsourcing) services, from companies all over the world has really increased, and companies are looking to leverage their BPO operations to do many more things,” Mr. Bithos said.

“The strength the Philippines has always had in BPO has really been a source of strength in COVID times because it was already there and companies are really leveraging it for lots of different reasons.”

The outsourcing sector has been increasingly returning to office operations. According to the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), 63% of the workforce was working from home in July, while 27% worked on site. In April only half of the workforce was working, either from home or on site.

JobStreet.com and the Civil Service Commission recently launched an online career fair offering more than 10,000 government jobs from 700 agencies.

SEEK Asia plans to develop training and certification programs, Mr. Bithos said, as the platforms can be expanded for employees to flag their skills to employers as well as learn new skills.

Mr. Bithos was appointed SEEK Asia CEO last month. — Jenina P. Ibañez