Unemployed youth find hope in YouthWorks PH recruitment drives

MANILA -- At 30 years old, Jobellyn Barbasa serves as chef de cuisine at Manila Peninsula Hotel’s Escolta Restaurant, the highest position in the kitchen. While she has only been working in the industry since 2012, Jobellyn quickly rose through the ranks because of an “advantage.”

“When I started [at Escolta], it was very hard because I have colleagues who are much older than me,” Jobellyn said in Filipino. “I almost quit, but my education taught me that I can overcome this if I just show them that I can work.”

According to Jobellyn, the training she received from a two-year course with Punlaan School in San Juan City buoyed her to success. Through the school’s Dual Training System (DTS) – a technical and vocational education and training delivery system that combines in-school and work-based training – Jobellyn alternated every few months between training in the school and in an actual kitchen at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel’s Paparazzi restaurant.

“The [DTS] became my edge against other interns and eventually my co-workers, since I already knew what is really happening in the kitchen,” she said.

Because of the partnership between Punlaan and Shangri-La Hotel, Jobellyn was hired straight out of training as a kitchen helper at Paparazzi in 2012. Seven years later, as she sits at the helm of a world-class restaurant, she continues to master her craft.

“Punlaan taught me to be virtuous in approaching my profession,” Jobellyn said. “I still do research on how I can improve and add to my techniques. I ask my colleagues for some ideas.”

Education to employment

Punlaan School is just one of many partner schools and corporations that help YouthWorks PH – a workforce development project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) – attain its goals for young Filipinos.

In a bid to improve opportunities in youth education and employability, the P1.7-billion program aims to recruit high school graduates aged 18-24 who are not in school, employment or training (NEET), and provide them with work-based skills training through partner schools and corporations.

“As we shatter the barriers faced by the youth when searching for employment, we must give them holistic education that will empower them and make this industry better in the process,” said Karol Mark Yee, YouthWorks PH chief of party.

YouthWorks PH aims to reach 41,000 NEET across the Greater Manila Area, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos City, and Zamboanga. Out of these, the goal is to get 4,000 trainees employed in various companies.

“We are working very closely with the private sector to give the youth relevant work readiness and job skills training, so that they are ready to accept the challenge,” said USAID Office of Education Director Brian Levey during a recent media briefing.

He added: “Work readiness or life skills includes how to present oneself, how to communicate with customers, and how to work effectively with colleagues.”

YouthWorks PH conducted their first recruitment drive in Cagayan de Oro on April 8. This was attended by more than


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