SENATE Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Sunday said developing the country’s enterprise-based education programs will increase jobs and employment prospects for the Philippine workforce.

“We are formulating a comprehensive set of labor policies targeting both the demand and supply sides of the labor market to effectively address the persistent issue of unemployment and underemployment,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, he filed Senate Bill No, 2587 or the Enterprise-Based Education and Training Framework Act, which seeks to bridge the gap between the needs of local industries and the skills of workers.

The measure is one of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s priority bills this year.

“The involvement of our industry partners is crucial in ensuring that skills and competencies align with their requirements,” the Senate majority leader said.

The unemployment rate in February dropped to a two-month low of 3.5% as more Filipinos joined the workforce. Job quality also improved in February as the underemployment rate, which measures employed Filipinos seeking more work or longer working hours, fell to 12.4% from 13.9% in January.

Mr. Villanueva, who used to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said the government should focus on helping workers learn from industry experts to boost their skills and qualifications.

Last year, Mr. Marcos signed into law a bill authorizing the creation of a national employment roadmap and an inter-agency body to draft a national strategy for job generation.

The law also aims to boost the competitiveness of the workforce through upskilling and reskilling programs.

“The objective is to unify all modes of enterprise-based training programs under one framework to enhance the skills of our new entrants to the labor force and to upskill those already employed, ensuring their employability and meeting the demands of the rapidly evolving world of work,” Mr. Villanueva said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez