Further strengthening the nationwide “bridging employment” program to capacitate and enhance the employability of young student-workers has reached another level with 8,565 poor, but deserving, student-beneficiaries across all regions benefitting from the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), Labor Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday hailed the extensive efforts recorded by the DOLE Regional Offices just as the first quarter of the calendar year ended.
“The year 2015 started with a strong performance of the DOLE’s SPES in terms of the number of students given short-term employment opportunities and in the amount of public money allocated for the program,” Baldoz yesterday said.
“With the reinforced implementation of SPES in the regions, the DOLE definitely continues to make an impact in the lives of thousands of Filipino students who have no means, but have the ability to pursue college education,” she added.
According to the report of DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment, the leading gainers in terms of student-beneficiaries reached are ranked as follows: (1st) Region 4-A, with 3,819 beneficiaries, or 44.58 percent of the overall accomplishment rate for the first quarter; (2nd) NCR, with 1,208 beneficiaries, or 14.10 percent; (3rd) Region 11, with 697 beneficiaries, or 8.13 percent; (4th) Region 4-B, with 167 beneficiaries, or 1.94 percent; (5th) CAR, with 50 beneficiaries, or .58 percent; (6th) Region 2, with 44 beneficiaries, or 0.51 percent; and (7th) Region 8, with 12, or 0.14 percent.
The labor and employment chief noted, however, that while other regions may have reported minimal accomplishments, the figures are expected to rise by the end of second quarter of the calendar year.
“The program generally caters to students who are still attending school and at the time, the academic calendar is still on-going,” Baldoz said, adding:
“The influx of SPES applicants across regions is highly anticipated in the second quarter, particularly during the summer vacation—being the most opportune time for beneficiary-students to save money for the next school year. Also, the regular season for hiring SPES beneficiaries by our LGU partners is during summer vacation in time with their community development projects.”
Baldoz said the 2015 budget for the SPES amounting to P697.72 million is higher by 41.96 percent than the 2014 budget for the SPES amounting to P491.48 million—which in turn was higher by 5.21 percent than the 2013 budget of P467.13 million.
SPES is a bridging mechanism that enables student-beneficiaries to gain skills and workplace experience. It responds to the President’s 22-Point Labor and Employment Agenda which calls for the DOLE to work with relevant government agencies in enhancing social protection programs as well as the Emergency Community Employment Program (ECEP) to create jobs immediately so people can still have income to spend for their basic needs.
Under the SPES, students get paid a minimum wage 40 percent of which is in the form of a voucher applicable for the payment of tuition fees and books in any secondary, tertiary, vocational or technical educational institution. The 60 percent is paid in cash by the employers. They are also entitled to other benefits and privileges under the Labor Code.
“The SPES is an opportunity to enhance the employability of the youth, who will eventually be the next generation of the country’s workforce. More than giving the students gainful experience while earning some cash they can use when they go back to school, we want a long-term result of the SPES program by means of increased employment opportunities to the beneficiaries,” Baldoz said.
Private sectors employs SPES beneficiaries mainly as food service crews, customer touch points, office clerks, gasoline attendants, cashiers, sales ladies, “promodizers”, and many other positions. LGUs participating in the SPES assign the students to clerical, encoding, and messengerial duties, as well as other computer and programming jobs.
“The DOLE highly considers the private sector as partners to reinforce the long-term impact of the program to our student-beneficiaries. Such partnership is borne out of their corporate social responsibility as they take part in helping more students,” Baldoz she finally said.