Employers worried about SHS graduates’ readiness for work 

MANY EMPLOYERS are reluctant to hire senior high school (SHS) graduates on concerns about their readiness for the workplace, while most SHS graduates have expressed a preference to pursue further studies, according to a study released Thursday.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said its research, conducted starting 2018, found that SHS graduates faced challenges integrating into the labor market, with 22 of 26 companies surveyed thinking that they lack adequate preparedness for employment.

Twenty-four companies nevertheless expressed a willingness to hire SHS graduates, subject to conditions like a demonstration of specialized skills, increased on-the-job training hours, and restricting them to entry-level positions. 

In a webinar Thursday, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) Executive Director Lovelaine B. Basillote said that “openness (to hire SHS graduates) is one thing, but readiness is another.”

PBEd has launched a program known as First Future to train SHS graduates for employment with the help of the Department of Education (DepEd), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the University of the Philippines Open University, and 14 companies and organizations. 

Since its launch in February, Ms. Basillote said 797 participants have benefitted from the program.

The study found that among the SHS students interviewed from 18 schools, 75.4% still plan to pursue higher education, 10% plan to get a job, 13.7% want to study while working, and 0.9% are still undecided.

The SHS graduates said they do not believe they are prepared for work, have no confidence when it comes to competing with college graduates, and few companies are open to hiring them.

In a separate study conducted by PIDS in 2020 also released on Thursday, which evaluated the first batch of SHS graduates, only 20% entered the workforce while more than 70% are still attending college.

The DepEd has increased the hours for work study in the SHS program to 230 from 80s. A review of the K to 12 curriculum is ongoing by the education sector and industry, the department’s Bureau of Curriculum Development Director Jocelyn D.R. Andaya said during the webinar.

Ms. Andaya said the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Civil Service Commission are looking into how SHS graduates’ employability can be addressed.

She said the DepEd needs to “do more in marketing SHS grads” as they “need opportunities to show that they are ready to enter the labor force.”

The enhanced curriculum for K to 12 was implemented in school year 2012-2013 with the goal of increasing the competitiveness of the workforce. The Philippines used to be one of three countries in the world with only 10 years of basic education. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago