MANILA, Philippines — In a bid to break barriers in youth education and employability, YouthWorks PH, a workforce development project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), brought its recruitment drive on Friday, May 17 to Brgy. Loyola Heights in Quezon City.
Held in partnership with San Juan City’s Punlaan School, the activity focused on culinary and hospitality programs for girls. It was attended by around 430 youth who were interested to learn more about such training opportunities.
The P1.7-billion YouthWorks PH program aims to recruit high school graduates aged 18-24 who are not in school, employment or training (NEET), and provide them with skills training through partner schools and corporations.
US Ambassador Sung Kim, who gave the keynote speech in the event, said these activities are necessary to empower the Filipino youth to become leaders of the country.
“To unlock this tremendous potential, we need to promote youth activities for their active participation in the economy and society,” Kim said. “This includes expanding their access to education as well as creating livelihood and employment opportunities.”
Education to employment
Among the girls who participated in the event was 18-year-old Sherey Anne Silvano from Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Silvano has been a scholar since she started school. She sees activities like this as a way to get better opportunities for her continuing education.
“My father is the only one supporting me. I’ve been looking to get a job — any job — so I can sustain myself as I continue my education,” Sherey said in Filipino. “I hope YouthWorks can bridge us to more programs that tackle future in-demand jobs.”
This event is a perfect match for Sherey’s aspirations since Punlaan School offers decades of expertise in honing young Filipino women’s skills and creating employment opportunities for them. Founded in 1975, the institute pioneered the Dual Training System (DTS) — a technical and vocational education and training delivery system that combines in-school and work-based training — for the hotel and restaurant industry in the Philippines.
“Punlaan is a pioneer in hotel, restaurant and institution management education, with 100 percent gainful employment guaranteed for their graduates,” said PBEd Executive Director Love Basillote.
She added: “As we shatter the barriers faced by the youth when chasing employment, we must give them holistic education that will empower them to break from their predicaments, and make this industry better in the process.”
During a lunch with the media preceding the recruitment drive, USAID Office of Education Director Brian Levey noted that its partnership with the private sector through PBEd and Punlaan is what sets the YouthWorks project apart from other education initiatives.
“We are working with the private sector not just to give the youth the relevant job skills training that they need, but we’re also going to provide them work readiness training, so that they understand and are ready to accept the challenge,” he said. “We are teaching them how to present oneself, to communicate to customers and with fellow colleagues.”
Employment for women
For Punlaan alumna Jobellyn Barbasa, the training she received from the school buoyed her to success in her chosen industry. Through the DTS, Barbasa alternated every few months between training in the school and in an actual kitchen — in her case, at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel’s Paparazzi restaurant.
“The [DTS] became my edge against other interns and eventually my co-workers, since I already know what is really happening in the kitchen,” Jobellyn said in Filipino.
From being a kitchen helper in 2012, Jobellyn has become the chef de cuisine of Manila Peninsula Hotel’s Escolta Restaurant before she even hit 30 — all thanks to her training from Punlaan.
“Punlaan taught me to be virtuous in approaching my profession,” Jobellyn said. “I still do research on how I can improve and add to my techniques, and I ask my colleagues for some ideas.”
Jobellyn now looks on as more girls like her seek what she had accomplished.
“My advice to the participants today is to not lose hope even if they don’t have the means,” she said. “Everything will be okay.”
Punlaan School continues to create positive change on the lives of Filipino youth like Jobellyn. YouthWorks PH aims to achieve the same success and impact with their various projects. With their partnerships with Punlaan and other institutions across the country that utilize work-based training, YouthWorks PH is poised to empower thousands more of young NEETs.
YouthWorks PH’s next stop is at the University of Makati on May 26. They will conduct an outreach activity presenting construction career opportunities with the EEI Corporation. Other recruitment drives and outreach events will be conducted in areas such as Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo and Zamboanga.