PBED bats for competencies in jobs hiring

Published February 7, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippine Business for Education (PBED), the business community’s advocacy group for education reform, has launched a second phase of its online upskilling training program that will certify the competencies and skills of Filipino youth without college degrees.

With funding from City Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress focus area, PBED has launched the First Future 2.0 Project and relaunched its website.

First Future 2.0, the second phase of the First Future 1.0 initiated in 2018, seeks to train as many as 4,000 Filipino youth including senior high graduates and youth without college degrees so they could be hired and progress in the workplace.

The industry-vetted learning courses developed for First Future 2.0 are focused on building the capacities and competencies of the youth, making them even more employable and qualified for different industries.

PBED has engaged an initial of 25 stakeholders, 19 of which are private companies from the contact center industry, for First Future 2.0. These partners helped develop the training programs, establish the network in various industries, and mainstream the courses online given the shift to online learning due to the pandemic.

 The website has two main courses on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling: the Future-Ready CSR – Growth Mindset Training Customer Service Representatives (CSR) and Beyond Expertise – Cultivating Leadership Skills in Subject Matter Experts (SME). Each course has four training modules. Some of these are the Self-Discovery Journey, Leading Self in Challenging Situations, and Communicating Effectively as a Leader, which may be found on the First Future website.

Filipino youth are encouraged to visit the First Future website or official Facebook page to learn more and enroll in the available courses. After completion of the course, participants will be given a Certificate of Completion which may be part of their credentials once they apply for jobs.

Aftab Ahmed, Citi Country Officer for the Philippines said “First Future 2.0 couldn’t have come at a better time, right as the country is experiencing the drastic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce.”

In the first and second quarter of 2020, we saw that the Philippines’ unemployment rate rose to 17.7 percent that’s 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in April 2020 — with all regions in the Philippines affected.

The youth were among the hardest hit, particularly those in the services sector, and those holding informal and unsecure jobs.

PBED Chairman Ramon del Rosario, Jr. said they have discovered that unemployment is largely a supply chain issue.

“There are various loopholes and roadblocks in the education to employment pathway that prevent our youth from landing meaningful jobs: data needed to make informed decisions

are lacking; the quality of training is inconsistent across career stages; and platforms to facilitate the school to work transition are sparse. One can just imagine the barriers young people face today whenever they dare try and enter the world of work.

Back in 2018, he said, they found out that only 20 percent of companies they asked were willing to hire senior high school graduates for entry-level positions despite the fact that 93 percent of K to 12 competences learned in school matched what companies needed.

“What we saw then was more of a perception issue, where hiring was still heavily based on credentials – such as college diplomas – instead of looking at competencies,” he said. Over 100 companies joined and opened their doors to 19,000 entry level employment and 800 work-immersion positions for the youth.

But while more companies are now opened to hiring graduates from the K to 12 system, Del Rosario noted that the playing field continues to be unfair for those without college degrees – especially as they try to progress in the workplace.

Through this partnership with Citi Foundation, Del Rosario said they have worked with over 25 partners within the contact center industry to concretely identify and articulate competency needs and co-develop skilling and upskilling programs that focus on building these competencies.

“Through this renewed partnership, we hope to change the landscape where diplomas are the only acceptable currency in entering and progressing in the  workplace, where young people can access jobs freely regardless of their education background, as long as they are equipped with the right skills,” said Del Rosario.

He urged the private sector to continue helping work “towards a bright and stable future for the next generation – one where unemployment is rare, and skills and competencies are honored.”