In 2016, about 1 out of every 5 unemployed individuals belonged to the youth, and that’s a challenge that educators and employers will need to address for the next generation’s sake.
DIFFERENT factors, including the lack of education and lack of experience, keep thousands of young people from finding jobs.
Take the case of Jemar Kamahalan, 16, an out-of-school youth from Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City.
He dropped out of school when he was 10 years old and a Grade 4 pupil, because his parents could no longer afford to keep him in school. At the time, he was also taking care of his pregnant mother in the hospital. He was the only son. He shared a small home, about 10 meters by five meters, with his parents and 12 other siblings. They slept side by side on a mat.
“Bisa’g unsa na lang akong trabaho nga gisudlan; wala na pud ko’y pamilya ug nag racket-racket ra ko para ma buhi (I accepted odd jobs to meet my needs; I don’t have a family anymore),” Jemar said. He decided not to return to school, choosing instead to earn money as an occasional kargador (stevedore) and construction worker.
He left home when he was 12, frustrated that the money that was supposed to be for his siblings’ education paid for his parents’ vice instead. He was taken in by the nuns of San Nicolas Church, where he stayed for three years.
Kamahalan still wants to finish his studies and become a police officer, saying he wants to catch drug addicts. He believes that illegal drugs destroyed his family. Right now, he earns his keep as a stay-in errand boy and saves his money for his return to school.
In the Philippines, one out of eight Filipinos or 6.24 million of the estimated 39 million Filipinos from six to 24 years old is an out-of-school-youth, according to the 2010 Annual Poverty Indicator Survey released by the Philippine Statistics Authority. In 2013, the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) stated that one in every 10 or about four million Filipino children and youth was out of school.
The FLEMMS defines out-of-school children as persons aged six to 14 years who are not attending school. Out-of-school youth are persons 15 to 24 years who do not attend school, have not finished any college or post-secondary course, and do not work.
The same study also showed that of the nearly four million out-of-school children and youth in the country, they have either gotten married or began cohabiting, have insufficient family income to send a child to school, or lack the interest to attend school themselves.
More graduates than jobs
Yet there are those who have completed college and still have a hard time getting a job.
Joseph Caisip, a 25-year-old IT graduate, has been looking for work for a year now. Many companies he applied for refused, he said, to train fresh graduates.
“I just graduated at the time and the people the companies were searching for were the ones who have considerable experience. I couldn’t find any job because of their requirements. It made me lose hope. I don’t have the self-confidence to apply anymore,” he said.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), as of 2016, the unemployment rate in Philippines stood at 5.5 percent. About 20 percent of this group were youth who were neither studying nor seeking jobs.
DOLE said there were around 70,000 job opportunities in 2016. Yet the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recorded a total of 692,602 fresh graduates in the same year. Like thousands, Joseph, too, wants to go abroad.
Government has taken some steps to keep companies from discriminating against jobseekers. Republic Act 10911 prohibits employers and recruitment agencies from denying training and refusing to help individuals because of their age.
“While the unemployment rate shows progress, it is important to note that the unemployment rate of the youth is still twice the national unemployment rate and thrice the unemployment rate of the age group 25 to 54,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in a SunStar interview in December 2016.
Unemployment among the young can have far-reaching consequences.
Psychologists Urban Janlert and Anne Hammaström stated in a 2002 study (“Early Unemployment can contribute to adult health problems: Results from a longitudinal study of school leavers”) that early unemployment can lead to heal problems like smoking, depression, and anxiety.
Unemployed youth are also likely to feel more isolated from their surrounding communities.
Among the possible solutions is for the youth to enroll themselves in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to earn more skills and certifications they can use to apply for jobs or degrees. Some employers have also urged their colleagues to be more open to take in fresh graduates, and invest time and money in the next generation.
“Having fresh graduates makes this place livelier and more welcoming to people, especially when they are willing to learn and are friendly with the customers. They are more open-minded than some workers who are older,” said Jetsetters Travels and Tours Inc. CEO Ana Marie Ng–Co.
With the competition for jobs getting stiffer, it will take the cooperation of the government, employers, and academe to help more young people complete their education and land jobs. Anjelie Co and Therese Lenis, Contributors
(Anjelie Peach Co and Hughie Therese Lenis study Media and Communications in Cebu City’s St. Theresa’s College.)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2017.
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