Lots of jobs for college grads, but do they want the work? means BUSINESS

MANILA - The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) says there's plenty of jobs available for new college graduates. The only problem is, do they want the jobs - or vice versa?

Citing a 2006-2011 labor force survey (LFS) by the National Statistics Office, NSCB Secretary-General Jose Ramon G. notes that 18 percent of the country's unemployed are college graduates. Most jobless grads hold degrees in medical courses, trade, craft and industrial programs, engineering and architectural programs. 

Meanwhile the Bureau of Labor Employment Statistics (BLES) says that the three hardest-to-fill posts among professionals from January 2009 to June 2010 were vacancies for accountants and auditors, electronics and communications engineers, and systems analysts and designers. And the top three reasons those jobs remain open: most applicants are unqualified, most applicants are inexperienced, and qualified applicants expect too high a salary.

"These reasons are somehow consistent with the 1999 GTS, which indicate that unemployed college graduates have the tendency to be 'choosy' in seeking jobs," Albert said, referring to the graduate tracer studies of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

He said more than 40 percent of the unemployed college graduates cited "no job opening in field of specialization, no interest in getting a job, starting pay is low, and no job opening within the vicinity of residence," as reasons for unemployment.

"A factor that clearly affects employability of college graduates is the quality of instruction they received. The rather low rates in passing rates for professional licensure examinations across the years is a cause for concern, and especially if we continue to have some HEIs consistently having zero passers for a field of study," Albert said, referring to higher education institutions.

He said graduates from the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University have lower waiting time in the job market from the time of graduation, higher employment rates, and higher incomes.

"Undoubtedly, the quality of learning in higher education has its roots in basic education.  After all, how can college students absorb what they are taught in college if they did not learn enough in basic education?" he said.

"This is the reason why the Department of Education (DepEd) is beginning to implement the K to 12 program, as a means of making the requisite changes in the number of years of basic education, as well as improving the quality of the curriculum," he added.

In a separate statement, Emmanuel Esguerra, deputy director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said developing the capacities of young workers through intensified investments in basic education is crucial in achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

“Investing in human capital, especially the youth that comprise a significant proportion of the Philippine population, is a major item in the government’s inclusive growth agenda,” Esguerra said.

According to the October 2012 LFS, 48 percent of Filipinos willing to work were 15-34 years old. Similarly, this segment of the population comprised 46 percent of Filipinos who were employed during the period.

Esguerra said the lack of workers with appropriate skills set is a major challenge, adding that this is evident in industries that are knowledge-intensive and require a high degree of functional flexibility.

“That is why the most important skill is being good at learning, and that is what investment in quality basic education is for,” he said.

In this regard, the rollout of the K to 12 Basic Education Program aims to produce holistically developed learners with 21st century skills and prepared for higher education, middle-level skills development, and immediate employment or entrepreneurship.

“This will signal to potential employers that the quality of Philippine labor is and will remain competitive and employable,” Esguerra said.