Future you | Inquirer Opinion

Future you

/ 12:06 AM September 13, 2014

In a landmark study for the McKinsey Center for Government, Mona Mourshed, Diana Farrel and Dominic Barton visualize three critical intersections in the transition from education to employment: when young people enroll in postsecondary education (whether academic or technical-vocational), when they build skills, and when they seek work.

The study is simply titled “Education to Employment: Designing A System that works.” In it, the authors present the journey from education to employment “as a complex system with lots of different places to enter and exit, not as a straight road.”

The data come from surveys and interviews of over 8,000 respondents (employers, education providers and the youth) in nine countries.

One of the “most striking findings” of Mourshed, Farrel and Barton is that “at each intersection, the points of view of the different drivers are often so different from one another that it’s difficult to believe they are on the same highway.”


“For example, fewer than half of youth and employers believe that new graduates are prepared adequately for entry-level positions,” the authors say. “Among providers, though, 72 percent say they are. Similarly, while 39 percent of postsecondary educators believe that students drop out because the course of study is too difficult, only 9 percent of youth agree. In short, even if the drivers are on the same road, they don’t seem to be looking at the same map. No wonder they are missing one another.”

The Philippines is not among the nine countries in this study. However, data provided by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) present a similar scenario. The PBEd’s research findings show that the Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia and that a key reason behind this is the mismatch in the current placement of graduates and the job requirements of the industry. It points out that many students do not have enough information on where job opportunities lie.

Consequently, they tend to make misinformed choices concerning enrollment and career.

The number of unemployed young people here closely hews to the global paradox described in “Education to Employment,” where high levels of youth unemployment occur at the same time that there is a shortage of people with critical job skills.


Nowhere is this shortage more pronounced than in the information technology and business process management (IT BPM) industry, one of the country’s  key employment generators. According to the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap), around 900,000 new employees were hired by IT BPM companies in 2013. By the end of 2014, this industry is on track to breach one million new hires. And yet, despite about half a million college graduates yearly, the supply of qualified talent continues to be critical for practically all industries. Penny Bongato, Ibpap executive director for talent development, has repeatedly stressed in various forums that industry, government and the academe need to collaborate more extensively to actively address this global crisis.

“Education to Employment” says: “The International Labor Organization estimates that 75 million young people are unemployed. Including estimates of underemployed youth would potentially triple this number. This represents not just a gigantic pool of untapped talent; it is also a source of social unrest and individual despair.”


The PBEd has always maintained that quality education is everybody’s business. Its most recent joint project with USAID Philippines directly addresses both the shortage in critical skills and youth unemployment through an online career exploration portal called futureyou.ph, which will show which jobs are in demand and which courses or programs can lead to those jobs. There will also be basic information on schools and different industry careers.

The portal will be accessible to the public beginning Sept. 23 after a formal launch starting at 9 a.m. at the University of Makati Mini Theater, PBEd project manager Massi Oracion has announced.

The PBEd envisions that futureyou.ph will evolve into an indispensable tool for industry and the academe because it will enable industries to communicate their human resources needs to the youth while providing the academe with accurate and timely information on what courses schools should be offering. Most importantly, futureyou.ph aims to help our youth make better-informed career choices.

“Education to Employment” bears this out. “Way too many young people take a wrong turn here,” say the study’s authors. “Fewer than half of those surveyed are confident that if they had to do it again, they would study the same subject. That’s a lot of disappointment; it’s also a sign that students don’t have the information they need to make the right choices. Youth across the surveyed countries said they were not well informed about the availability of jobs or the level of wages associated with their course of study. Some 40 percent of youth also report that they were not familiar with the market conditions and requirements even for well-known professions such as teachers or doctors. Without this understanding, many students choose courses half blindly, without a vision of whether there will be a demand for their qualifications upon graduation.”

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Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and education lead for talent development at the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines.

TAGS: Butch Hernandez, Commentary, education, employment, opinion, study, Unemployment

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