Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 7      March 20 - 26, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Joblessness Awaits Batch 2005
First of two parts

Only a few of the 385,000 students who will graduate this April will land a job within the next two years. Many of those able to get a job will be in call centers.

By Carl Marc Ramota
Contributed to Bulatlat

The country will have about 385,000 new graduates by April. Unfortunately, the employment pool can accommodate only a few of these graduates thus leaving many others asking themselves whether college education was worth the time and money at all.

Only four of every 10 graduates will land a job within the year of their graduation, a recent study reveals. Many of those able to get a job within two years will be in call centers.

In a recent report, the National Statistics Office (NSO) confirmed that the Philippines' jobless rate rose to 11.3 percent in January from last October’s 10.9 percent. This means some 4.03 million Filipino adults were unemployed as of end-January, up from 3.9 million a year earlier.

About 35.9 percent of those with jobs as of end-January were employed in the agriculture sector, while services and industry sectors accounted for 48.4 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.

The government through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) admitted that the 6.1 percent supposed growth in the Gross Domestic Product is not enough to generate new jobs especially for fresh graduates.
Thus many of this year’s graduates are left with only two options: either to work in call centers or leave the country. This largely explains the continuous brain drain in the country and the soaring underemployment rate.

Underemployment rate was pegged at 17.6 percent in 2004, higher than the 17 percent rate in 2002 and 2003.

Lack of job opportunities is forcing many college degree holders to work in call centers or as domestic helpers and caregivers just to earn a living, even if these jobs do not match their degrees for which their families spent large sums of money.

Education-labor mismatch

In a recent report, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) projects that a third (123,584) of this year’s prospective college graduates will come from business-related courses such as accountancy, masters in business, secretarial and commerce. Others will come from the education discipline (88,062 or 20 percent); engineering and technology (56,851, 13 percent); mathematics and computer science (943,141, 9 percent); and medical and allied courses like nursing, radiology and medicine (30,166, 6.9 percent). Some 13,831 students are also expected to graduate from the maritime discipline this year.

But these new graduates, as their previous batches were, are doomed to become idle in the following months, even years after graduation.

A study conducted by Dr. Roberto Padua and Dr. Juliet Daguay of Mindanao Polytechnic State College reveals that lack of jobs has forced 41 percent of males and 50 percent of females to become idle after graduation.

Only 40 percent of the total graduates are likely to land jobs within the year of their graduation. The other 40 percent will not be able to find employment until next year while the remaining 20 percent will probably become unemployed for the next two years. On the average, a graduate has to wait for 18 months before being employed.

In a separate study, Dr. Adriano Arcelo, a consultant for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in his study found that medicine graduates have the shortest waiting period, with only 1.87 months. Criminology graduates, on the other hand, have to wait for 8.67 months before landing in a job. Meanwhile, electrical engineering, medical technology and social sciences major will be idle for at least 4.2 months before becoming employed. 

But the waiting period for most graduates may take forever. Apparently, jobs requiring higher education comprise only around 7.2 percent of the total job opportunities in the country. And ironically, elementary graduates (11.1 million) and high school graduates (10.9 million) make up most of the employed sector based on the census data in 2003. It is probable however that these comprise the sector that is largely considered underemployed, are self-employed or doing odd jobs.

That is why even some of the deemed prestigious courses register high unemployment rate. Surprisingly, leading the pack of unemployed professionals are lawyers, with a 20.55 percent unemployment rate. They are closely followed by architecture and commerce graduates with 20.48 percent and chemical engineering majors with 19.78 percent.


Given such a scenario, employment uncertainties will definitely hound this year’s graduates as much as it continues to hound last year’s graduates.

Karen Baral, 19, and a graduating Information Technology (IT) Major at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines fears she might have a hard time finding a job related to her degree.

Karen admits she joined the bandwagon of fresh high school graduates who took IT and other computer-related courses as these were “in demand” during the latter years of the 1990s. However, it was quickly replaced by nursing and care-giver programs at the start of the new millennium.

“Probably I’ll apply for a part-time job on websites while waiting for employment,” she told Bulatlat. “The way I see it, in the end I might still land in a low-profile and lowly-paid clerical or secretarial job, if there are no other jobs available.”

She added that she is also considering joining her classmates in applying as call center agents.

Karen is just one of the college students who are anxious of being sidelined after graduation. Bulatlat

Economic Woes Drive Bright Graduates to Call Centers (Conclusion) By Carl Marc Ramota



© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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