Jobs matchmaking
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Jobs matchmaking


President Marcos recently directed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to “upskill and reskill” their graduates to better match them to jobs required by the country’s industries. To meet this goal, both the Department of Education (DepEd) and Tesda were tasked to embed the technical-vocational education and training (TVET) program in K-12.

This is certainly an important concern, especially as one of the original intentions of the K-12 program, through the technical-vocational track, was to provide senior high school (SHS) graduates a credible option of earning a living in lieu of a costly tertiary education. Unfortunately, this goal had not been realized as a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies reported that only 20 percent of SHS graduates were able to find jobs. In this way, the extra two years of high school had been for naught. Government officials, including the President and agency heads, have recognized that collaboration with industries is key to solving this problem. But is matching SHS graduates to available jobs enough?


I have opined extensively on issues related to education and the need for a systemic, collaborative approach. The issue of jobs, particularly on job qualification, needs to be viewed through a similar lens. For example, it would be incomplete for DepEd to try to solve this problem without looking at what the job market is like for college graduates. Taking an even bigger step back, this is beyond education and training. A whole-of-government approach is needed.


In an ideal world, the job market for a SHS graduate should be qualitatively different from the job market for a college graduate. This can only happen if there is a great diversity of jobs and job pay. In an ideal capitalistic world, the more time one invests in education and acquisition of skills, the better the payoff should be when it comes to job opportunities. After all, the labor pool of those with a particular specialist skill should be much smaller than the general job pool. This is essentially what K-12 has promised young Filipinos—that the added two years will pay off.

That is not what is happening. With a glut of college graduates also looking for jobs, they invariably also compete for jobs that SHS graduates are qualified for. As an employer, it would be such a hard sell to choose a SHS graduate over a college graduate for the same salary position. College graduates, in turn, are forced to consider jobs that they are overqualified for simply because there is a scarcity of better options, aside from seeking employment abroad. We could go further down the trail to see how monopoly of industries has flattened wage prices, with our salaries barely keeping up with the fast-rising cost of living. We could go even further and see how the sheer amount of red tape hinders aspiring entrepreneurs from opening up businesses—and thereby opening up more jobs—without the aid of generational wealth and extensive networks. In essence, the issue of employability of SHS graduates is a symptom of a much greater problem in our economy.

Tesda offers an alternative route to acquiring specializations to hopefully attract a better paying job. Browsing through their certification offerings, I was impressed by the variety of technical skills. Their trainings range from animation to agriculture, from food to fashion. It is important to note, however, that access to these programs also varies greatly. Not all Tesda centers offer all these programs and certain regions are limited to narrowed options. Another realization is that these certifications seem to be geared toward working abroad (Why else would we need a Tesda certificate on ballroom dancing?). It seems that Tesda is designed with an overseas job market in mind, not necessarily what is needed in the country. Still, I believe that Tesda has great potential to advocate for valuing technical skills and, more importantly, to advocate for better pay for their trainees. In the United States, for example, skilled plumbers fetch a high rate for their services which meant that they could adequately provide for their families. This is what the TVET program of Tesda and the technical-vocational track of DepEd should be striving for: advocating for the dignity and valuing of such professions and skills so that they will be paid their true worth. This, of course, can only be actualized if Filipinos’ cost of living and spending power allow us to afford paying such wages.

Government’s initiatives to improve access to jobs for SHS graduates are commendable and it seems they are realizing that it cannot be done without coordination and collaboration with other sectors. At the same time, they still need to realize that tackling problems separately is inefficient. All our problems are connected, and we need to address them as such.


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TAGS: jobs, opinion, skills, skills-jobs mismatch, Tesda

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