Abellanosa: Getting employed


Fringes and frontiers

A COLLEAGUE told me that her son’s classmates would actually like to enroll in ABM (Accountancy, Business and Management) for Senior High but would instead take up STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) for a number of reasons. Among others, they find either engineering or medicine and its allied professions more employable.

I see this though as an unfortunate equation of clear job titles to employability. For many people, a familiar job title is an assurance of a clear future: nurse, doctor, physical therapist, dentist, engineer, etc. Compare the said careers to entrepreneur, real estate developer, talent acquisition manager, people management officer, and chief corporate mission’s officer.

Apparently, the “weird” sounding jobs are unattractive. They give students especially those in Junior High School the impression that choosing them would mean an unstable if not unclear future or worse no future at all. In a world where “education” should equate to employability it is but practical to think of what will happen not only after Senior High School but more beyond college.

The limited orientation of our students however is not only sad but also unfortunate. Such a limitation shuts them from pursuing the so many possibilities in the future. Jobs are evolving because the needs of the world evolve too. New jobs are conceptualized everyday. A commonly disregarded questions among students and parents are “what am I capable of and what do I know?”

The problem is we are so focused on “what we want to become.” Often, we forget that what we want to become is difficult to achieve because we don’t have the potentiality to make such a “becoming” achievable. Lack or limit in knowledge paralyzes freedom. It is incontrovertible that the effects of poor decision-making in High School would concretize in the actual world and experience of employment. I know of former students who thought that a background in science and engineering prepares them for employability. Interestingly, they ended up shifting to operations management or entrepreneurship. I also know of some friends who studied medical technology or dentistry and are now good and thriving insurance agents.

If only to give other examples for the point I am driving in let me talk about the academe. In universities and even in basic education schools you’d meet people who in college studied engineering, information technology and even law. Fate however made them “teachers.” Did they dream of becoming teachers? Apparently they did not. Teaching perhaps was not in their horizon when they were in High School. Truth to tell “teaching” is the last choice if ever it is among students especially among high-end private schools. But we do know that many of the good teachers in our professional schools of engineering, law, business and medicine were not trained as teachers.

Bottom line: students especially those in Junior High School should go through a series of orientations, reflections, and discernment on what to take for college. Of course no person in this world holds all the knowledge and certitude as to what will happen in the future. But students can be guided properly by pushing them to explore their capabilities and thus locate themselves somewhere in the world’s vast ocean of opportunities. They have to understand that their career plans and choices cannot just be an alignment to their parents’. One need not get stuck in just looking for employment. One has to consider the possibility of becoming an employer. This is, sadly, and especially in the Philippine context – not a preferred path because Filipinos think of productivity in terms of high-pay which is always equated to “precise scientific skills.”

Too unfortunate that in the school called life our “realization” is always late. We get to know what we really want in hindsight. This means in concrete terms that the once upon a time Junior High student has already finished the whole STEM curriculum only to realize that he does not like either engineering or medicine, and that math is useless if it does not translate to actual income and increased investments.

The once upon a time STEM student now owns a number of restaurants and enjoys cooking.


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