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Graduates of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) curriculum "who are competent enough" can be hired for jobs that used to require college degree holders, a panel of experts said Tuesday.
In a press conference, National Industry-Academe Council (NIAC) secretary-general Chito Salazar said the new curiculum would provide students with the competence to be employed right after high school.
Salazar noted that different business associations in the country, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have vowed to accept high school graduates for work in their companies if they meet competency standards.
"Ang sinasabi ng industriya, kapag ipinatupad ang K to 12, at tama ang pagtupad, kahit hindi na sila maghahanap ng college diploma para sa iba't ibang posisyon na hindi naman talaga kailangan ng degree," added Salazar, who is also president of Philippine Business for Education.
"Karamihan sa mga job ngayon, hindi kailangan ng college degree, pero you spend four years for a college degree tapos ang trabaho mo kahit two years ka, pwede na rin e. Tulad ng HRM para mag-waiter, or para umakyat sa barko," he said.
"Karamihan kasi sa basic jobs, tulad ng pagtatrabaho sa McDonalds, hindi naman major ang kailangan — basic skills ang importante," Salazar added. "Ang problema ng industriya dati, dahil nga kulang ang kaalaman ng high school graduate, nagre-require sila ng college degree para pumasok halimbawa bilang security guard, naghahanap sila ng college diploma, pero hindi naman technically kailangan ng college diploma."
He also added that the Department of Education had an agreement with business organizations to ensure K-12 graduates are considered for employment.
Support for K to 12 reform
Meanwhile, Salazar, reading a statement on behalf of the NIAC, said aside from being able to qualify for jobs, the K-12 basic education program is a "necessity" to level the country's education system with global standards.
"The K-12 system answers the need for a 12-year basic education cycle, which is now the basic requirement for entry in most universities and companies around the globe," the council said, in a statement read by Salazar.
It also noted that students would be more ready for college as some courses taught previously in the tertiary level will be taught in senior high school, which is "expected to lead to better-prepared college freshmen."
While NIAC noted the country's high youth unemployment level of 1.46 million as of April 2014, the new curriculum would help improve competencies of the students.
"The prospects of a better-trained workforce could potentially encourage new and additional investments, create jobs and dramatically decrease the unemployment rate in the Philippines," it said.
The NIAC, which is composed of top industry and academe leaders in the country, called on the government to be accountable for ensuring a smooth transition to the new education system amid protests against its implementation, he added.
Some faculty members from various private schools in Metro Manila opposed the implementation of the K-12 basic education program because they could be retrenched or phased out.
NIAC said the government should facilitate dialogues between stakeholders, including DepEd, CHED, TESDA, DOLE, and representatives from the academe, and create a unified transition fund to minimize overall overall labor, enrollment, and economic losses incurred during the transition period.
Among the members of the NIAC are: Ramon del Rosario, Jr.; President of PHINMA Corporation; Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ; President of the Ateneo de Manila University; Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman of the Ayala Corporation; and Dr. Ricardo Rotoras, President of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology. — ELR/DVM, GMA News