Press Release
June 4, 2012


As a new school year begins today, Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the importance of strengthening career guidance and counseling services in all secondary schools to help students make good career choices and prevent them from falling into the unemployment trap.

Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, made the statement amid the escalating unemployment rate in the country especially among the youth. A survey from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reveals that at least 13.8 million Filipinos were jobless in the first quarter of 2012 as unemployment hit a record-high of 34.4 percent in the first three months of the year.

SWS said the survey conducted March 10 to 13 shows that the 34.4 percent unemployment rate was 10 points more than the 24 percent, or 9.7 million jobless Filipinos, recorded in December 2011.

"Unemployment and underemployment are highest among young Filipinos who are at their potentially most productive age. We have to help them avoid being jobless or being stuck in jobs that do not fully utilize their skills," said Angara.

According to SWS, unemployment rate was highest among the younger segments with 55.9 percent of respondents aged 18-24 from 49.1 percent in December, and 45.4 percent among those aged 24-34 from 29.9 percent.

The veteran lawmaker said among the factors that contribute to the high unemployment rate is the disparity between the skills of graduates and the jobs available in the market.

"One of the reasons why this persists is because students are not properly advised as to what courses are suitable for their talent and skills, and what can land them gainful employment after graduation.

"Higher education here is extremely market driven. Students enroll in courses they heard are in great demand abroad. They unknowingly contribute to a glut and, eventually, unemployment in that sector," Angara explained.

"For example, Business Administration and Nursing are heavily oversubscribed. In contrast, we do not get enough students in the Natural Sciences and in Agriculture where there is a huge manpower demand to be filled."

Angara continued, "The career guidance program can be jointly undertaken by the Department of Education and Department of Labor and Employment. It should include a job forecast that will highlight in-demand and hard-to-fill occupations of key industries that are projected to be the main source of employment for the next 10 years. Through such an employment forecast, we will be able to guide our students in choosing an appropriate career path.

"This program also fits into the overarching goal of the K to 12 program we are piloting this school year: produce more competitive graduates who are readily employable."

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