MANILA, Philippines – The biggest batch of students under the K to 12 program will graduate in 2018 with the promise that they are already employable should they decide to look for a job instead of pursuing higher education.
It now begs the question: Will employers hire these K to 12 graduates? (READ: K to 12: Can it address the labor mismatch?)
The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) on Wednesday, July 5, reported on the state of Philippine education and noted that there is still a need to encourage more businesses to be open to hiring K to 12 graduates.
"Unfortunately, while a large number of entry-level jobs are capable of being filled with K to 12 graduates, many companies are still hesitant," PBEd president Chito Salazar explained.
"Naiintindihan naman natin kasi (We understand because), it's something new, so what we're trying to do is find companies, pilot companies, and accept K to 12 graduates as an experiment, as a pilot, so that we can prove to companies na puwede na ang K to 12 (that K to 12 graduates are already employable)."
PBEd chair Ramon del Rosario Jr said industry groups that are "better organized" are already "moving forward in a more aggressive way" in terms of considering K to 12 graduates in their hiring processes.
"There's a conscious effort, I guess, to sell the idea that you really don't need college degrees for many jobs. So I guess that's the way industry is trying to participate, because it's very important that in the long run, people do realize and accept the reality that the graduates of K to 12 are in fact ready for some of the kinds of work that are available in our economy," he said.
But according to Del Rosario, who is also the president and chief executive officer of PHINMA Corporation, since the country has many college graduates who are not "fully employed," it doesn't cost companies anything to require their employees to be college degree holders.
Salazar agreed. "One of our partner companies said, kasi sa dami ng college graduates na nandiyan na walang trabaho, e di mas gusto mo na lang na college graduate kaysa hindi," he said.
(One of our partner companies said because there are many college graduates out there with no jobs, you'd prefer to hire a college graduate than a high school graduate.)
While they understand this, Salazar said their suggestion is for companies to look for competencies instead of a college degree.
"What skills are you looking for? So whether it's fulfilled by a college graduate or a K to 12 graduate, both should have equal opportunities," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
In a previous interview with Rappler, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said the Department of Education's focus for this last leg of the K to 12 implementation is to make sure that students graduate, and that graduates who want to be employed will find jobs.
"Kumbaga sana, by next year, 'yung mga nagsabi na 'Kaya ko kinuha 'to kasi gusto kong magtrabaho,' makakuha sila (We hope that by next year, those who said 'I took this track because I want to work' will be able to find work."
On Wednesday, Salazar also urged the DepEd to reach out "more aggressively" to business communities for industry-academe links.
PBEd, in its State of Philippine Education, noted that the country has second to the lowest industry-academe links among middle-income countries in the region.
"This is problematic because if our goal is to ensure curricular relevance for job-readiness and entrepreneurship, the private sector needs to be an equal partner in the process," PBEd Executive Director Love Basillote said.
The DepEd under the previous administration already linked up with at least 13 industry partners who agreed to tie up with DepEd field offices or schools in providing support and opportunities for work immersion for students.
But Salazar observed that the DepEd under the Duterte administration still "lacks familiarity" with the business sector
"This DepEd has less contacts, so it must be a lack of familiarity. So that's why we're trying to bridge it, because there is willingness on the part of the business sector," he added. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.