THE K to 12 program is on track and the two-year extension of high school is envisioned to provide the Philippines with a fresh supply of technically-competent entrants to the labor force as well as a new batch of college students pursuing higher education.

Those who complete the 12th year of studies and choose to enter the job market would be able to find work anywhere instead of staring blankly everywhere at home.

Students completing the 12th year – in time – and trained in their core competencies are the most desired workers. They are expected to be productive for years to come. Their contribution from taxes withheld from their income and remitted to the government are intended to help workers who get laid off, or became disabled and most importantly funds for retirement.

Without new entrants to the work force, the retirement fund would vanish much earlier as shown by the Taiwan experience.

The “young and vibrant” Asian tiger economy has gone gray and unsteady for two generations. Reuters reported Sunday, December 27, that Taiwan’s “working-age population is not growing fast enough, nor earning nearly enough to pay for their parents’ retirement.”

So is most of the First World nations including Australia.

In fact, Australians are aging – faster.

At the same time, the growth in the population of its traditional workforce is expected to slow to almost zero.

Even with increased fertility rates there will be more Australians aged 65 and above over the next 40 years than there would be caregivers qualified and willing to take care of elderly Australians.

A report issued by the Australian government Treasury shows that in 1970-71, 31 per cent of the population was aged 15 years or younger. By 2001-02 this proportion had dropped to 22 percent.

On the other side of the age spectrum, the proportion of Australia’s population aged over 65 years has grown from 8 percent in 1970-71 to 13 percent in 2001-02. Unless the situation stabilizes, the proportion of the population over 65 years will almost double in the next 40 years to around 25 per cent.

In August 2013, the Australian government launched a program designed to address the crisis.

Dubbed “Living Longer, Living Better” the 10-year program will provide $880.1 million over five years to increase the number of elderly care packages from around 60,000 to 100,000. Another batch of 40,000 additional packages are expected to be available from 2017-18 to 2021-22.

The money is there. Government funding is ready. But are the aged care workers available?

In 2010, the then Department of Health and Ageing estimated that the aged care workforce would need to increase between two and three times before 2050 in order to provide care to the growing number of aged care residents.

So yes, there exists an aged care workforce. But these workers themselves are aging. And employers are having a hard time attracting and retaining Australian workers.

Aged care advocates in Australia believe the traditional models of aged patient care cannot cope with the demands of the future.

A significant component of the recommended package of solutions is to increase skilled migration – especially in the aged care sector.

Current regulations in accepting temporary and permanent carers to Australia, however, illustrate a bumpy road ahead. For example, even licensed and experienced Philippine nurses cannot be sponsored on work visas as aged care workers.

Australia’s qualifications and competency standards require that an Aged Care Worker (AGW) must have completed at least an Aged Care III Certificate, a course that is usually taken in Australia and costs about $5,000.00 Australian dollars.

Certain technical/vocational schools in the Philippines have been licensed to offer the 7-week Aged Care III course – and the course fee is a fraction of the cost of what students must pay if they take the course in Australia.

After completing the theoretical component, graduates complete the remaining practical training part in Australia and are issued the Aged Care III Certificate, a qualification that would enable them to work in the aged care sector.

The Aged Care course which could lead to work and permanent residency in Australia is not for everybody.

To complete the practical training component of the course, the graduate must apply for a student visa. For the student visa to be granted, the graduate must provide evidence that he or she has the financial ability to pursue the succeeding Aged Care IV course and a one-year related diploma program.

This academic pathway suits those with parents or relatives who are OFWs and are willing to pitch in to ensure the nurse’s student to residency pathway.

New Zealand also has a similar pathway, However, there is no training and placement firm counterpart authorized to license the course to Philippine schools. An RN seeking to be licensed and registered, for example, must complete the Competency Assessment Program in New Zealand. No part of the program is offered in the Philippines.

Canada has a student to resident pathway and like New Zealand, a student may take only a yearlong post-secondary diploma. Healthcare workers with limited or no experience must complete a two-year academic course in Australia to pursue a student to resident pathway Down Under.

During the academic program (when school is in session) the student is authorized to work 20 hours a week and, during breaks (approximately four months) the student can work full time.

In New Zealand and Canada, qualified student applicants who are either married or are in a common law relationship would have further benefit of having the spouse or partner work full time for the duration of the study period.

Being an international student in any of these three countries give the student immediate access to employers and, therefore, the opportunity to get a job offer.

A job offer gets the student the ability to immediately apply for permanent residency, an option not available to offshore students who may have the same qualifications.

For OFWs seeking to get their children better opportunities, the student to resident pathway to Australia, Canada or New Zealand is the most viable option to date.

For graduates of the K-to-12 program, leaving home to work and study predicts a better future.

A warning though: never pledge to complete the two-year extension (of the high school years) in time and, failing to finish the K-to-12 track – you would promise to be run over by a train.

Of course you can say your promise was made in jest and that you should not be taken seriously.

In short, it was all B.S.


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