Apr 032013
Vicente Ayala used to believe that having a college degree was his only gateway to meaningful employment. Like many Filipinos his age, however, financial problems kept him from enrolling in a college or university.

“Kung ano gusto mo sa buhay, in that way, makukuha mo siya kapag [kumuha ka ng] four-year course,” Ayala said in an interview aired on GMA News’ “Unang Balita” on Wednesday. “Parang ‘pag sinabi kasing four-year course, ‘pag nag-apply ka sa trabaho, matatanggap ka agad.”

Faced with limited finances, Ayala took the practical route and enroled in a six-month food and beverage course offered by the government through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“Pagkatapos kong mag-aral ng food and beverage [course], nag-apply ako ng trabaho agad. Tapos ayun, natanggap ako agad,” he said.

However, amid happy-ending stories such as Ayala’s are tales of discrimination against job applicants who took up vocational courses. This was confirmed by no less than TESDA chief himself, Joel Villanueva.

“Hindi dapat tignan, matahin, o magkaroon ng diskriminasyon ‘yung mga hindi four-year course graduates sapagkat kung titignan mo mas maraming available jobs para sa kanila,” he said in the “Unang Balita” report.

Villanueva said there is no dearth of job vacancies for applicants who graduated from vocational courses. “About 218,000 or 220,000 jobs are up for grabs and yet ang applicants lang natin na natatanggap is about 117,000.”

Villanueva went as far as saying that discrimination is one of the reasons behind “employment mismatch,” or the disproportion between what a person took up in college and available job openings.

Data from GMA News Research show that of the 2,894,000 unemployed Filipinos, 489,086 or 16.9 percent are college graduates.

Villanueva said TESDA’s programs are market-driven, which means the training programs the agency offers are aligned with the demand for certain jobs.

Of TESDA’s estimated 20,000 training programs, its tourism program, which involves hotel and restaurant management as well as housekeeping, among others, is the most popular. Information technology, health and social services, automotive, and construction programs are also in demand.

Villanueva said these vocational courses should not be considered as “pantawid” or short-term programs as they can be foundations for long-term careers. Gian Geronimo/KBK, GMA News

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