OPPORTUNITIES, NEW JOBS. Department of Trade and Industry Cordillera Administrative Region regional director Juliet Lucas (center) said digitalization of the micro, small and medium enterprises creates opportunities and creates new jobs especially for those working in the sector. Lucas said government agencies collaborate to further boost the MSMEs where over 75 percent of the region's workers are employed. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – The economy of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is driven by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with 75.6 percent of the region’s total employment working in the sector. 
In a press conference on Tuesday, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)-CAR statistician Lito Pagaduan said that last year 22,493 establishments in the MSME sector employed 80,527 workers out of the total 106,503 registered employees. 
Pagaduan said MSMEs, which are businesses with capitalization lower than PHP15 million, created 88,753 jobs in 2018. 
He said large enterprises employ 25,976 workers or 24.40 percent of the total employment in 2021.  
Earlier data shows the large businesses operating in the region are the industries based in economic zones and the mining companies. 
Juliet Lucas, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-CAR regional director,  said that with the pandemic affecting all businesses -- MSMEs or large companies, there were jobs created due to a shift from the traditional way of conducting businesses.
"While there is a decrease in employees needed due to low demand and the shifting of marketing and promotion activities to digital, there were new jobs and opportunities created," she said. 
Lucas said data analysts were also created by the “pandemic way of doing business,” aside from the logistics activities or the "transporters". 
She said the DTI and other government agencies have collaborated to drum up efforts for the MSME sector which is deemed a major economic driver. 
"We conduct training, TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) upskills workers or provide them with new skills, aside from the pump-priming funds that are infused,” she added.
Lucas said the MSMEs are mainstreamed and assisted in terms of product quality and readiness for financing. 
“We give coaching models, product development, and even tool kits at the height of the pandemic," she said. 
Lucas said that of the over 25,000 MSMEs being assisted by their office, about 80 percent have adopted the digital platform in their business. 
"The pandemic changed the buying patterns of the public and the industries must follow suit. We should not look at digitalization as taking out employment but as an avenue to create more job opportunities," she added.
During the regional poverty dissemination of the 2021 full-year poverty statistics last week, the National Economic Development Authority said jobs provided by MSMEs bring the region to a better footing with a 6.9 percent poverty incidence in 2022 despite the pandemic. 
This year’s poverty incidence in the region is lower compared to 8.6 percent in 2018 and 17.1 percent in 2015, it said. (PNA)