Harnessing the power of apprenticeship
Business Matters

Harnessing the power of apprenticeship

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Makati Business Club (MBC) has been looking forward to the possible passing of the apprenticeship bill—a significant step toward enhancing the Philippine workforce. MBC has actively supported the apprenticeship bill since it was filed in August 2022.

In the Philippines, two effective methods allow hands-on learning—apprenticeship and internship or on-the-job training (OJT). Apprenticeship is a long-term program of up to three years, while internships are completed in less than six months. Given this difference, we see apprenticeship as more effective for learning. It is disheartening that apprenticeship programs are not prevalent in the Philippines compared to other forms of training like internships and OJT, which are often viewed as mere academic requirements for graduation.

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The dual-training system in Germany, a successful vocational education model combining theoretical learning at vocational schools with practical training under a company, has significantly contributed to the country’s robust economy. What lessons can the Philippines draw from Germany’s approach to the apprenticeship program? Firstly, Germany showcases a remarkable alignment between public and private interests, where both sectors work hand in hand to develop a skilled workforce. In the Philippines, while the government develops initiatives to involve the private sector, it has not been widely successful. Companies that are interested in participating find it difficult to adhere to the requirements and often end up implementing their training program without the government.

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Moreover, in Germany, apprentices are compensated for their learning efforts, recognizing the value they bring to the workforce even during their training period. According to QuickStart Sachsen+, the starting monthly salary of an apprentice in Germany is 620 euros or P37,704.90—which is one-third of the starting salary of an employee. This practice not only motivates apprentices but also instills a sense of professionalism and worth in them from the outset. In the current apprenticeship bill, apprentices are provided 75 percent of the minimum wage or P457.50 per day in the National Capital Region. While this may cover the apprentice’s daily meals and public transportation, it is not the value proposition you use to attract apprentices.

One striking aspect of Germany’s system is the early integration of students into the workforce through internships as early as eighth or ninth grade. This exposure allows young individuals to explore various career paths firsthand, making informed decisions about their future. In the Philippines, career tracks start at senior high school or 12th grade. Replicating this early education journey can significantly benefit Philippine youth by providing practical experiences that complement their academic learning.

As we see the differences between Germany’s and the Philippines’ dual-training practices, we begin to recognize what the Philippines can do to enhance the apprenticeship programs in the country. First, we must cultivate a culture of knowledge transfer within organizations. In Germany, apprenticeship is like second nature. Regrettably, in the Philippines, apprenticeship is sometimes seen as a chore that will disrupt the company’s normal operations. Encouraging experienced employees to mentor and pass on their expertise to apprentices fosters continuous learning and skill development. Additionally, it is crucial to generate excitement among the youth about apprenticeships by highlighting the value of hands-on training and real-world experience in shaping their careers.

One significant challenge hindering the expansion of apprenticeship programs in the Philippines is the perceived complexity and burden associated with participation for companies. Simplifying the process for companies to engage in apprenticeship schemes will encourage more businesses to take part actively. Streamlining administrative procedures and providing incentives make it more attractive for companies to invest in developing future talent through apprenticeships.

Embracing apprenticeship programs is not just about fulfilling a legislative requirement; it is about securing the sustainability of the private sector. By investing in the skills development of our youth through structured training programs like apprenticeships, Philippine companies can ensure a steady supply of highly skilled workers equipped to meet industry demands. Increased youth labor participation with valuable skills will not only benefit individual workers but also contribute significantly to the overall economic growth and competitiveness of our nation.

Let us seize this opportunity to shape a brighter future and a more competitive workforce and economy through effective apprenticeship initiatives.

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Patricia Siriban is the director of the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Council (AMSC). AMDev is a five-year USAID and Unilab Foundation-led initiative. MBC serves as the secretariat of AMDev and AMSC.

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Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).

TAGS: apprenticeship, Bill, opinion

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