K-to-12 won’t solve high unemployment among ‘educated workers’

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Mag-aaral ng Bitan-o Elementary School, Sorsogon City. Photo by BICOLTODAY.com
Elementary grade school pupils of Barangay Bitan-o, Sorsogon City. PHOTO BY BICOLTODAY.COM

Latest official figures show that in 2012, almost eight out of 10 unemployed are high-school or college-educated.

SORSOGON CITY (21-May-2013) – Government’s recent pronouncement that the growing number of unemployment among educated workers is a result of jobs-skills mismatch does not address the reasons behind job scarcity in the country, research group IBON said.

Latest official figures show that in 2012, almost eight out of 10 unemployed are high-school or college-educated. Three out of 10 reached college-level of education or are even graduates of post-graduate studies, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The research group said that majority of Filipinos are finding it difficult to get jobs because employment is scarce, and not because it reflects a mismatch between the school curriculum and job availability. IBON added that the job scarcity in the country is due to a weak industrial sector, particularly domestic manufacturing, which would have created sufficient jobs in the country. The share of the manufacturing sector to total employment has fallen from 12.1% in 1960 to only 8.3% in 2012. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its 2013 report also recognized that a strong industrial base is vital in increasing jobs and making growth more inclusive and sustainable.

With the absence of government resolve to substantially increase the education budget, the lack of decent jobs in many parts of the country remains a barrier for parents to send their children to school, whether under a 10-year or 12-year education cycle. On the other hand, the same lack of decent jobs is to blame for graduates failing to land the much-needed jobs. NSO figures show that on the average, there are 1.4 million Filipinos under 15-24 years old who did not have jobs in 2012. Year on year, youth unemployment rate was higher in January 2013 at 16.6% compared to the same period in 2012.

According to IBON, reforms on the educational system, such as the recently-signed K to 12 Law, only focus on building skills needed by the global market. With K to 12, students are expected to work after taking up vocational and technical trainings in high school. The curriculum changes remain unsupportive of a progressive economy where students’ skills are developed to contribute to its development.

Changes in curriculum should reflect the country’s development aspirations, the research group said. However, there is apparently no learning area or competency in the present K to 12 curriculum that aims to develop the ingenuity and capacity of Filipino students to develop new technologies and build new forms of knowledge needed to help strengthen the country’s industries. These would have helped create meaningful jobs and provide a sustainable solution to the country’s chronic jobs crisis.

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