By Jullie Y. Daza
To the million and one college graduates of 2018, how employable are you?
According to a university professor whose main task is screening applicants for teaching positions, the average comprehension level of her interview subjects is grade 4. Grade 4! A graduate of a four-year course in a city in Eastern Visayas flunked a job interview when she admitted that she could not write a business letter in English. Only 25 percent of the 6,000-plus who took the last bar exams passed. What does that say of their level of comprehension, their ability to understand and answer questions, and their qualification to take the board exams?
We may be an English-speaking country, but we have lost the edge as our neighbors in Southeast Asia and the Middle East have caught up or are fast catching up. Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo has filed a bill to rescue our fluency in the Queen’s language before we totally lose it, in translation or not. Shall we begin by prohibiting high school students from speaking “in a mix of English and Pilipino” when they’re in school? A hundred years ago, every non-English word uttered in the classroom spelled a 10-centavo fine, 10 centavos being the price of a jeepney ride or a bottle of Coke.
To the question of how employable our graduates are, Polytechnic University of the Philippines seems to have found the answer. Chino Salcedo, who teaches everything about food from something you cook and eat to something you sell and market (not as in “palengke”), merchandise, advertise, and make a career out of, “PUP students are willing to do anything, they know they have no choice but to work, they cannot be choosers.” As children of poor or single parents and unlike a certain sector of millennials who feel they are entitled to the soft life before they have done any real hard work, “our students are willing to learn on the job, they don’t mind having their mistakes pointed out to them,” just don’t fire them because they will struggle to earn their keep and stay loyal to the company that gave them their first break.
A matter of attitude, yes, sir. They may not speak perfect English, but that can be polished later on. At the PUP campus in Sta. Mesa, the popular courses are entrepreneurship, IT, and hospitality. A new class of entrepreneurs – hmm, just what Manny Villar wished for.