Measures proposed to improve employability of Senior High grads

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Two measures proposed in the lower house to improve the employability of senior high school graduates, as envisioned by the law creating the K to 12 program were introduced by Reps. Michael Romero of 1-PACMAN partylist and Henry Ong of 2nd District of Leyte.

 

Ong is calling for a longer on the job (OJT) training for SHS graduating students to 320 hours of immersion from the current 80 hours only, as employers are concerned that 80 hours is barely sufficient for them to have a good grasp of the work.

 

Romero is urging the businessmen—particularly the business associations—to give senior high graduates a fair chance at the entry level jobs market.

 

Credentials is a different kind of jobs mismatch. It is the practice or belief system that makes an employer—whether an individual, company, institution, or group—require academic credentials that are more than what is required of a particular job or range of jobs.

 

Why for instance would a college degree be needed to qualify as sales personnel at a convenience store or sales outlet? Is a college degree really that necessary to be a technician at an auto detailing shop? To work as a nursing assistant, caregiver, or a teacher’s assistant is the bachelor’s degree truly necessary? 

 

For cooking hamburgers and French fries, must the applicant be a college graduate? To become a customer service representative in a business process outsourcing company, what are the competencies needed and are those competences represented fairly by a college degree?

 

Are the so-called 21st Century skills like innovation and critical thinking necessary for entry-level sales, clerical, and technician jobs? To all the questions, he said a resounding no. Those credentials are for the highly-specialized, supervisory and the middle-level managerial positions.

 

This credential inflation, he said, is what causes thousands of Filipinos to be unemployed in this country forcing some to work overseas because credentials inflation is pervasive in the Philippine economy.

 

Truth is, employers in this country did not trust the high school diploma of before and many still have said they would not trust the senior high school graduation diploma.

 

They say this now when the senior high school students have not even graduated and gone through their employment screening processes.

 

The employers and business sector have already prejudged our senior high school students even before they have graduated, calling this a blatant discrimination. They have not even given them the chance to prove themselves, to show what they can do.

 

True, some of the SHS graduates will be accepted in the colleges and universities they will apply to, but some will not pass the entrance examinations or do not have money to pay for tuition in the private colleges and universities, and therefore have to find work or be young entrepreneurs.

 

He asked the Small Business Corporation to be ready with their P3 loans for this year and future years’ batches of senior high school graduates. Some of the future tycoons of business will rise from among the senior high graduates whom many in the business sector have already prejudged.

 

Romero urged the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to re-examine the situation and rethink their value systems.

 

He challenged them to stamp out discrimination from their hearts and minds and from among their ranks to give the graduates of senior high school a fair chance to prove the worth.

 

Senior high graduates do not deserve to be the objects of prejudice and discrimination when they try to enter the world of work.

 

Longer OJT 

 

Ong for his part urged the businesses to prolong the OJT or immersion programs of SHS and suggested that the core basis for hiring new employees for entry levels should be:  1) demonstrated competence relevant to the position applied for as shown and assessed during the screening process; 2) high potential for learning on the job, adaptation and flexibility  and 3) basic good manners and right conduct.

 

Paper credentials of academic and equivalency qualifications are difficult to trust, but employers must not prejudge an applicant.

 

Businesses are concerned that the minimum 80 hours of practicum or immersion training would not be enough for an SHS student to learn what needs to be learned because it is just two weeks of time on the job. Two weeks really is not enough. The kids might just end up doing errands or menial tasks.

 

He urged the Department of Education to revise the SHS curriculum by lengthening the practicum or immersion component to at least 320 hours of actual time of OJT work. That would be at least two months of OJT and can be implemented during a summer term or some other time during the school year.

 

The details of the OJT should be the same as the Special Program for the Employment of Students. He said the expedient way is to merge SPES into the senior high curriculum. If more funds are required for this, then DepEd can include it in its GAA request for 2019. 

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