Out-of-school youth, undergrads shift to becoming full-time workers

Mavic Conde
'I thought my life is going nowhere. Thanks to JobStart, I got hope,' says teenage father Stonelieh Constante of the DOLE's program in Bicol

LIFE CHANGER. 18-year-old Stonelieh Constante takes a photo at their site. He is now working as a hydraulic excavator. Photos courtesy of Stonelieh Constante

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – For out-of-school youth (OSY) and those who were unable to finish their studies, landing a full-time job can be tough but if given the opportunity, they can catch up. (READ: How employers, schools can prepare students for work)

This is what the 80 beneficiaries of the JobStart Philippines Program in this city has proven. They persevered and are now full-time employees.

Jobstart is a youth employability enhancement program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Legazpi City, the pilot area in the Bicol region.

According to the regional DOLE office, the program seeks to shorten the school-to-work transition of at-risk youth by providing holistic employability enhancement intervention.

According to 2018 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, 9% of Filipinos aged 6 to 24 are out of school. Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by the same agency, the country’s unemployment rate inched up to 5.1% in the same year.

JobStart intervention

The program consisted of a 3-part cycle employment process which the beneficiaries need to finish. These are life skills training (LST); technical skills training; and an internship program.

This add-on approach supplements the typical set of employment facilitation services that include career guidance and employment coaching, labor market information (LMI), and referral and placement.

Those who completed the process underwent a 10-day LST at Miriam College where they were trained by partner technical and vocational institutions on skills such as hairdressing, heavy equipment operation, and customer service

The beneficiaries were also endorsed for a 3-month internship program to partner employers who offered them at least a 75% minimum wage.

“It [JobStart] also seeks to develop their personal attitudes, especially those relevant to the values of professionalism and work appreciation,” said Alvin Villamor, DOLE regional director.

Jobstart: A life changer

One of the successful JobStart beneficiaries is 18-year-old Stonelieh Constante, a teenage father who had to quit school to support his own family.

While at one point in his life he regarded himself as a failure, he did not allow the setbacks to stop him from fulfilling his dreams.

“I’m the only one in our family who hasn’t finished college. I became a father at a young age. That’s why I took the challenge of finding a job for my child,” said Constante who described the program as a life changer.

Because of Jobstart, he is now working as a hydraulic excavator earning P305 plus a P75-allowance daily. He is also receiving other benefits and overtime pay.

“I thought my life was going nowhere. Thanks to JobStart, I got hope,” he said.

Another JobStart program beneficiary is 19-year-old Marianne Grace Magracia, a senior high school graduate who decided to stop studying to help her family by working.

She admitted that finding a job without a college degree is a bit challenging. But this did not stop her from looking for opportunities for sustainable work. (READ: New law aims to ensure safer workplaces)

“When I heard about this program, I immediately prepared my requirements so I could apply. Then I underwent a 30-day training on heavy equipment operation and I was the lucky one to be endorsed for internship at Sunwest Construction and Development Corporation,” she said.

With her regular job as an equipment operator, she is now able to provide for her family’s basic needs besides breaking gender barriers.

Magracia said she obtained more confidence and is now planning to work overseas as a professional equipment operator in the next 5 to 10 years. (READ: JobStreet 2018 report: Work ethic, communication skills important for employers– Rappler.com