If there’s one constant in the life of young adult Filipinos and older, it is the search of gainful employment. Despite government and statistics declarations that the country’s unemployment rate has gone down even if slightly, every year there is a fresh wave of new graduates looking to get into the workforce. Add to that the larger number of people who have decided to try their luck working overseas. This strong yearning for more work to be had is felt even here in General Santos City.

Last Monday June 27, coinciding with the nationwide celebration of the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Fitr, a massive job fair was held in the city promising employment for some over one thousand lucky job-seekers. It was called the “Trabaho Para Kay Juan” Job Fair, and in a way it was quite unlike the many such events that have been done before in GenSan of past years. Usually a job fair is organized under the auspices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (for overseas employment) and either one of the Department of Labor and Employment or the Philippine Employment Services Office to handle local jobs.

This time however, OWWA and PESO have joined forces with the Department of Trade and Industry, along with three of the major private collaborators when it comes to job fairs in the city: ABS-CBN TV3 General Santos, Golden State College and KCC Mall of GenSan, which served as venue and host for “Trabaho Para Kay Juan”. That alone should explain the huge crowds of fresh graduates and numerous other fresh applicants looking for their big break in employment.

Overseas job prospects during the fair were much the same as before, with work to be had either in Hong Kong or the Middle Eastern countries. Slight differences lay in the sort of employment being offered, some added and others removed. In terms of local employment, the major fishing companies in the city such as Frabelle and such have as always put their best foot forward. Other major draws of applicants are the host itself – KCC Mall – as well as businesses dealing in industrial goods like Dadiangas Glass.

But the major attention-grabbers of the job fair are the new employers among the interview tables. One of them is the Perfecom Group of Companies; not really new, but they are the franchise holders of the new wave of 7-Eleven fast-food and convenience stores that have multiple branches popping up all over GenSan.

The other new name that has garnered a lot of interest is Andorra Estates, the brand new mixed-use premium development site that is taking form over at Barangay Tambler. In a way, they have replaced in prominence the former land development darling of previous GenSan job fairs that is the Camella Group. In addition to the expected offering of sales associates, they also offered openings for company drivers and even administrative assistants.

As is the fashion of job fairs, the organizers made it a point to have those applicants who impressed enough to get hired on the spot be called to the stage and be recognized, if they were still present in the KCC Convention Hall after securing their employment that is. A new promotion of the “Trabaho Para Kay Juan” event is the rather generous presentation of free stuff to the first 100 applicants through the doors, though it really came across as a drop of water in the ocean of job-seekers who arrived there that day. Having a makeshift canteen offering snacks and refreshments to the attendees (courtesy of KCC Mall) was another welcome innovation too, growing from the old courtesy of providing meals for the prospective employers, to catering for everyone in the event.

All in all, the “Trabaho Para Kay Juan” Job Fair was a significant paradigm shift in how such events are conducted here in GenSan. Realistically not all of the prospective applicants who appeared on that Monday holiday got their wish, but the new features that were bandied out during the rush to get employed are welcome additions to the organizing of job fairs, and one that will now be expected of such events happening in the future.

Photo courtesy of KCC Mall of Gensan

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