HOW much does tomorrow cost in today’s prices?
To more than three million enrollees four years ago, the cost of a college degree is beyond reach.
To the 16 percent to 18 percent who will eventually graduate and get their bachelor’s degrees, getting a job related to their course is a matter of luck, not choice.
But not to worry, the National Statistics Authority, the Labor Department and Malacañang confirm there are jobs.
The number of enrolees for the current school year would be 3,262,815 according to the Commission on Higher Education. And as the trend continues, only 16 percent to 18 percent will go up the stage to get that prized diploma.
No problem, the government again assures the college graduates. And this time, the assurance has been cast wider to include even the undergraduates or students who have completed a vocational course in health care or tourism related academic program.
“We assure the 656,284 graduates joining the labor force for the first time of a government employment facilitation assistance to help them find jobs and shorten their job search,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
In fact, the government is harnessing information technology to facilitate a college graduate’s job search. The government’s official job portal – PhilJobNet – is available as an app in the Google Play store, free.
Job seekers can look for vacancies posted by employers and employers can post their vacancies. Of course, users of PhilJobNet must contend with one of the slowest internet connection in the world. But that is for another government agency to solve, not for the Labor Department.
So I log on to http://www.phil-jobnet.dole.gov.ph at the time of writing this column – early in the morning for less competition along the information superhighway.
This is what got me: “All posted announcements has expired (sic). All posted announcements has expired. There are no new announcements at the moment.”
The Philippines have had tens of thousands of nurse graduates. About half a million are licensed and most of them are either unemployed or underemployed. So I typed, “nurse” on the search box to find out what vacancies exist for this much needed occupation.
There were 62 total jobs posted, most of them apparently for overseas employment. Not looking good so far: only 62 jobs for hundreds of thousands of nurses looking for work?
So I went to the POEA website for more listings, this time from licensed recruitment agencies. The website is www.poea.gov.ph.
Click on the “Available Job Orders” icon and you will be faced with three search choices: job orders by position, country or agency. I choose the “position” option and typed “registered nurse.” Do not type “nurse” or “nurses.”
The result showed that licensed recruitment agencies have unlimited or open job orders for nurses in the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and even Papua New Guinea.
Overseas employers usually require an applicant to have work experience, usually obtained by a nurse through volunteer work. In a number of cases, even licensed RNs need to pay hospitals, health facilities to gain “experience.”
So what are the prospects locally? I checked on the “Hot Jobs” portion of PhilJobNet.
There were 792 job listings found.
The top ten or hottest occupations with most vacancies are “Cashier- 105; Call Center Agents, 72; Jr. Supervisor (Management Trainee), – 68; Service Crew – 49; Household Attendant- 37; Sales Clerk- 36; Delivery Driver- 35; Accounting Staff- 32; Company Driver – 32 and Accounting Clerk- 31”
Welcome to the real world, college graduates.
Kristel C., a licensed nurse, tried looking for jobs in 2012 and even paid to get volunteer work experience. She got work in a call center as a Telehealth nurse. No direct patient care involved. She was getting P20,000 a month or P240,000 a year.
But working nights was not good for her health and sanity. After consulting with her family, Kristel decided to take up a health-related course in Canada instead, one that would lead to a nursing career.
As a student, Kristel is allowed to work 20 hours a week. Since there are plenty of jobs for students and especially in the health care field, Kristel got a job paying $18 per hour or $360 a week, $1,440 a month. Since students are allowed to work part time during school days and full time when on vacation, Kristel’s gross annual income was $23,040. Converted using an exchange rate of $1:P46, Kristel’s equivalent pay in the Philippines is P1,059,840.
That is the prize.
Because she had access to employers and had experience, Kristel took the licensure examination in Canada and found an employer. With the job offer, she applied for and obtained her permanent residency – and got a pay increase.
That is grand.
Even grander is the fact that Kristel does not have to be a Canadian citizen to sponsor a spouse or partner, parent or dependent child. Canadian permanent residents are eligible to sponsor these immediate relatives. Unlike the US where only citizens can.
Parents of nursing, IT, accounting, engineering and technological graduates are willing to pay the price of education for their children. But the prize cannot be found at the end of the rainbow on Philippines shores
Not unless we have a level playing field where career advancement is possible based on merits instead of “merong kabarilan, kaklase, kapartido o kamag-anak.”
And the long-term grandest prize of all?
Overseas workers are able and free to choose candidates for elective offices who can truly serve instead of swerving from a promised “daang matuwid.”
With their newfound strength and resolve, re-acquired sense of nationhood while overseas, OFWs become better citizens when they return as Balikbayans or otherwise, not being swayed by empty promises; mindful of and demanding in their role as taxpayers, even setting up businesses, providing employment and sharing their experience for others to profit from.
That makes tomorrow a prize worth of today’s prices.