“MANY people come out of universities with lots of expectations, lots of skills and education but it’s very difficult for them to hit the job market and to find the things they want to do. There’s also a lot of expectations from young people nowadays on what they want to do with their lives, so I think we have to match all these, the skill sets in universities, the needs, and expectations of young people and the needs and expectations of the job market.”
This was according to Christoph Wagner, head of Cooperations Section, EU Delegation to the Philippines, during the virtual launch event of the PATHWAY project on February 23-25. PATHWAY stands for Promoting the employAbility and enTrepreneurship of Higher education graduates through innovative WAYs in the Philippines. The three-year-long project involves Philippine and European Union universities, including Benguet State University, students, employers and the industry sector, and policymakers.
The said launch event revealed the state of entrepreneurship and employability culture for Filipino graduates. Christina Beans, PATHWAY project manager, presented the challenges Filipinos face in terms of employability and employment, entrepreneurship, and structural and institutional issues.
Beans cited figures from the International Labour Organization to show the challenges confronting Filipino graduates as follows: unemployment and underemployment are a significant problem for young people in the Philippines (25.7 percent of aged 15-25 are unemployed); young people are four times as likely to be unemployed as the adult population, a figure which worsens in the case of women; on average it takes a college graduate two years to find a fixed-job; limited employment opportunities force Filipinos to migrate by necessity; and ~65 percent of HE graduates do not have the right skills or training to qualify for the jobs they are applying for, indicating a great mismatch between university training and industry needs.
And while around 700,000 students graduate each year, Antonio Peralta of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), speaking from the business perspective, said that organizations are struggling to recruit because of the increasing demand for new and emerging skills, the high turnover rate among the working population, candidates with multiple job offers, lack of work experience among the pool of job applicants and recruitment data analysis. There are also compounding challenges due to COVID-19 such as the transition from human to virtual engagement, increased recruitment costs, and government regulations.
“Why do organizations prefer hiring candidates with experience? Basically, because of the lower onboarding and training costs, it improves retention and there’s an existing network of professions. However companies are also starting to pay more attention to other factors and that is employee attitude and the intellectual curiosity that is seen with new candidates,” added Peralta.
In terms of entrepreneurship, Beans presented that although a formal program for entrepreneurship education was introduced by CHED in 2005, the curriculum concentrates on training students to create start-ups, but doesn’t target the growth and long-lasting opportunity sectors. She added that there is no budget allocated to set up business generators or incubators, there are no links with non-academic organizations, there are difficulties of finding capital to open a business and only one percent of students effectively engage in launching a business after graduation.
The project aims to address these challenges by fostering and boosting university-enterprise synergies, and by accompanying CHED’s reforms on building up an entrepreneurship culture at a national level. In the next three years, PATHWAY will conduct staff training workshops, student workshops, business events, hackathons, and a national conference. Details about these events will be available on the project Facebook page, @Pathway2employability
PATHWAY is coordinated by the University of Alicante (Spain) and brings together five universities from the Philippines (Ateneo de Manila University, Benguet State University, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, St. Paul University Philippines), as well as CHED, ECCP, Enactus Philippines and the University of Montpellier (France). – JSTabangcura