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Is education in sync with labor?                                                 Filipino Version
by Jose Ramon G. Albert, Ph.D. 1

 

Is education in sync with labor? The New Year brings an opportunity for us to examine the year that has past in order for us to plan for a better future. One of our junior technical staff at the National Statistical Coordination Board profoundly points out in his Facebook shout out: “Why do we need to celebrate a new year, when in fact everyday is a new day, everyday is a new life, and absolutely everyday is a blessing.”  While we should look at every moment as a new moment, we ought to still examine where we have been so that we can always be better persons. Statistics should help us recognize where we have improved, and where we can make further improvements.

Anecdotes about job mismatch

In the next few months, a number of our college students will be experiencing a new life, joining the labor force. Some of them may immediately find decent employment. Others may join the unemployment line, perhaps temporarily, and the rest may find jobs that do not match their field of study. One statistics graduate has become a well known designer. My best friend, a computer engineer, has shifted careers into the culinary arts and is now a chef consultant, even authoring “The Malunggay Book.” A number of my friends who are registered nurses are selling condominiums and quite good at their occupation.  While it may be easy to label these cases as a job mismatch, but the reality may be far complex especially since there are now more and more jobs that actually accept graduates from all sorts of disciplines.    

Of course, it cannot be denied that about a decade ago, there was a huge demand for overseas nursing jobs that led a number of Pinoys to opt to study nursing, which in turn led to the current oversupply of new nurses. In consequence, we have heard of anecdotes about new nurses who even pay hospitals to get their required two year in-country service in order to pursue their dreams of overseas employment.  The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has opted to guard against low quality supply of nurses, and to arrest the oversupply of new nurses by having a moratorium on opening of nursing programs among higher educational institutions (HEIs) and by closing down some nursing schools, especially those with consecutive years of zero passing rates in the nursing professional board examinations.

To determine whether supply from higher education and demand from the labor market are at sync, graduate tracer studies (GTS) need to be conducted. The CHED commissioned a 1999 GTS, whose results appear to continue to tell a story about current conditions, perhaps in just a different form. The 1999 GTS suggests that graduates from the three premier HEIs in the country, namely, the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and Ateneo de Manila University, have triple plus points: lower waiting time to join the job market from the time of graduation; higher employment rates; and higher income. (Table 1) About half of the respondents to the study land jobs within 6 months after graduation, and about one percent of them do not have jobs even 2 years after their graduation.  Chief among the reported reasons why the college graduates surveyed for the 1999 GTS find difficulty getting jobs are lack of job opportunities, and unsatisfactory salaries or opportunities for advancement in jobs.  

Unemployed College Graduates  

Results from the Labor Force Survey (LFS) being conducted by the National Statistics Office every quarter shows that despite the attainment of a college diploma, college graduates comprised at least 18 percent of the total unemployed, the third highest share in terms of educational attainment from 2006 to 2011 (Table 2).    

Most of the unemployed college graduates are those who earned degrees on Medical Courses, Trade, Craft and Industrial Programs, Engineering and Architectural Programs (Table 3).  On the other hand, data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Employment Statistics (BLES) from their BLES Integrated Survey (BITS) suggest that the  top 3 hard to fill vacancies among professionals for the period January, 2009 to June, 2010 include 1) accountants and auditors; 2) electronics and communications engineers; and 3) systems analysts and designers (Table 4).  It may be observed that these top 3 hard to fill vacancies require specific technical requirements and most of which necessitates the passing of an eligibility exam.  Further, the top 3 reasons why vacancies are hard to fill were: 1) applicants lack needed competency/skill; 2) applicants expect a high salary; and 3) applicants lack years of experience (Table 5).            

These reasons are somehow consistent with the 1999 GTS, which indicate that unemployed college graduates have the tendency to be “choosy” in seeking jobs with more than 40 percent having the following reasons for unemployment: 1) no job opening in field of specialization; 2) no interest in getting a job; 3) starting pay is low; and 4) no job opening within the vicinity of residence (Table 6).  Could it be because most of these college graduates are not breadwinners in their respective families, and hence, can manage to delay their entry into the workforce? 

The GTS clearly has a wealth of information that are useful in designing policies that put education in sync with employment.  The CHED appears to have conducted the GTS last year, and I look forward to examining the results, but I find it rather unfortunate that its prior data collection and its recent conduct did not pass thru the Statistical Survey Review and Clearance System (SSRCS), a mechanism institutionalized by the NSCB to evaluate the design and instruments of statistical surveys or censuses sponsored and/or to be conducted by government agencies.    

Teachers and the Quality of Graduates

A factor that clearly affects employability of college graduates is the quality of instruction they received. The rather low rates in passing rates for professional licensure examinations across the years (Table 7) is a cause for concern, and especially if we continue to have some HEIs consistently having zero passers for a field of study. 

Undoubtedly, the quality of learning in higher education has its roots in basic education.  After all, how can college students absorb what they are taught in college if they did not learn enough in basic education? This is the reason why the Department of Education (DepEd) is beginning to implement the K to 12 program, as a means of making the requisite changes in the number of years of basic education, as well as improving the quality of the curriculum. 

But the quality of basic education is partly an issue of resources. It is hard to imagine how students in primary schools can learn anything if our classrooms are crowded. The teacher-pupil ratio for primary education has been relatively high compared to the corresponding ratio of our neighbour countries, ranging from 31 to 35 pupils per teacher in 2006-2010 (Table 8).  To address this problem, the DepED has been provided authority by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to hire an extra 61,000 teachers this year to be distributed among the public schools in the country. 

However, are there enough teachers in the country to meet this need?  Over the past decade, we have had only around 70,000 graduates of teacher education on the average per year, and about a fourth to a third pass the licensure for teachers, which means barely 18,000 to 23,000 on the average per year.  Further, recognizing that a good cadre of teachers could translate to quality graduates and licensure passers, it is important to note that while the percentage of faculty members in higher education with post graduate education has been increasing from 2001 to 2011, the rate of improvement has been at a slow pace (Table 9).  These may have implications on the quality of learning students will get, and in having students become prepared for the jobs they will be getting when they leave school. 

May the new year bring a brighter future in the education of our youth towards better employment.

 

 

________________________________

1 Secretary General of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). The NSCB, a statistical agency functionally attached to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), is the highest policy making and coordinating body on statistical matters in the Philippines. Immediately prior to his appointment at NSCB, Dr. Albert was a Senior Research Fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a policy think tank attached to NEDA. Dr. Albert finished summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the De La Salle University in 1988. He completed a Master of Science in Statistics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1989 and a Ph.D. in Statistics from the same university in 1993. He is an Adjunct Faculty of the Asian Institute of Management. He is also a past President of the Philippine Statistical Association, a Fellow of the Social Weather Stations, and an Elected Regular Member of the National Research Council of the Philippines.

This article was co-written by Ms. Bernadette Balamban, Statistical Coordination Officer VI and Ms. Carmelita Destreza, Statistical Coordination Officer III of the NSCB. This article was translated in Filipino by Mr. Ruben Litan and Mr. Edward Eugenio Lopez-Dee of NSCB. The authors thank Asst. Secretary General Lina Castro, Dir. Candido J. Astrologo, Ms. Libertie Masculino, Mr. Noel Nepomuceno, Ms. Mechelle Viernes and Mr. Gerald Junne Clariño,  of the NSCB and Ms. Jocelyn Almeda and Ms. Fatima Del Prado of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), for the assistance in the preparation of the article. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NSCB and its Technical Staff.

 



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Table 1: Employment Characteristics of College Graduates by Type of University, 1995

University Employment Rate (%) Mean
Waiting Time After Actively Looking for a Job
(in Months)
Mean Income Per Month (Php)
Total 69.7 4.3             8,474.38
University of the Philippines 79.1 1.8 9,714.37
De La Salle University 82.4 2.4 11,870.73
Ateneo De Manila 82.7 2.9 10,116.59
Other Private Sectarian 76.1 3.9 8,388.84
Private Non-Sectarian 66.2 4.4 8,202.00
Local Colleges & Universities   4.5  
Other State Universities 62.3 5.3 8,250.52
Non Profit/Foundation   6.2  

Source: 1999 Graduate Tracer Study, Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

 

Table 2: Distribution of Unemployed Persons by Highest Grade Completed,
2006-2011

Highest Grade Completed Share to Total Unemployed (%)
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Total 100.0  100.0 100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0
No Grade Completed 0.7         0.7 0.5         0.4         0.5         0.4
Elementary 15.2       15.0 14.0       13.3       13.1       12.6

      Undergraduate

6.6         6.9 6.4         5.9         6.1         5.7
     Graduate 8.6         8.1 7.6         7.4         7.0         6.9
High School 45.8       45.7 45.5       45.2       45.2       45.1
     Undergraduate 13.3       13.3 12.4       12.1       12.7       11.5
     Graduate 32.5       32.4 33.1       33.1       32.5       33.6
College 38.5       37.9 39.9       41.1       41.2       42.0
     Undergraduate 20.2       20.0 21.1       21.9       21.7       21.8
     Graduate and Higher 18.3       17.9 18.9       19.2       19.5       20.2

Source: Average of the Four Rounds of the Labor Force Survey (LFS), National Statistics Office (NSO)

 

Table 3: Proportion of Unemployed Persons based on October Round of the LFS
by Highest Grade Completed, 2006-2010

Highest Grade Completed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
No Grade Completed          1.4    1.7    1.4   1.3  1.2
Elementary      17.4 16.4  16.3 15.5 14.8

      Undergraduate

       8.1   7.8      7.8    7.2    7.0
     Graduate        9.3     8.5      8.5   8.3    7.9
High School    43.8 44.7 43.5 44.7 44.1
     Undergraduate      12.5 13.3    12.6 12.6 13.0
     Graduate      31.4 31.4    30.9 32.1 31.2
College     37.4 37.2  38.8 38.5 39.8
     Undergraduate      19.3 19.4    20.1 20.0 20.2
     Graduate      18.1 17.8    18.6 18.5 19.6

 

Bachelor of Arts/Science in General Programs

        0.2      0.2   0.1     0.1   0.1
 

B.A./B.S. in Programs in Eduaction Science and Teacher Training/Fine and Applied Program

       2.7      2.5    2.5   2.2 2.3
 

B.A./B.S. in Humanities Programs/Religion
and Theology Programs

        0.1  0.1   0.2   0.1      0.1
 

B.A./B.S. in Social and Behavioral Science Prog/Bus. Ad & Related Programs/Law and Jurisprudence Prog

          4.9   4.2       4.4     4.1     4.1
 

B.S. in Natural Science Programs/Mathematics and Computer Science Prog

        1.6      1.5      1.7     1.4      1.5
 

B.S. in Med. Incl. Doc. of Med., Dental Med., Opto./Trade, Craft & Ind. Prog./Eng. Prog./Arch. & Town Plan. Prog.

          5.3    6.0     6.4  7.2   7.8
 

B.S. in Agric'l, Forestry, and Fisheries Prog. Including Doc. of Vet. Med./Home Economic Programs

        0.7      0.6    0.6      0.7    0.6
 

B.S. in Service Trades Programs

         0.1   0.1       0.2     0.2     0.3
 

B.A. in Mass Comm. & Doc./Other Prog. of Educ. at 3rd Level, 1st Stage Leads 1st Univ. Deg.

         2.5   2.5  2.4   2.4 2.8
 

Post Grad, M.A/M.S./PhD in General Programs

 -     0.0     0.0  -      0.0
 

Post Grad, Prof. Dip./Cert./Masteral/PhD. in Educ. Sci. & Teacher Training/Fine & Applied Arts Prog.

         0.0     0.0       0.0 0.0  - 
 

Post Grad, Diploma/Masteral/Doctorate in Humanities Prog./Religion and Theology Programs

 -   -     -   - 
 

Post Grad, Prof. Dip./Cert./Masteral./Doct. in Social & Behavioral Sci. /Bus. Ad. & Rel. Prog./Law & Juris. Prog

        0.0      0.0       0.0    0.0  - 
 

Post Grad, Cert./Dip./M.S./PhD. in Natural Science/Math & Computer Science Programs

 -   -       0.0  -       0.0
 

Post Grad, Dip./M.S./PhD. in Med. & Allied Prog./Eng'g Prog./Architectural & Town Planning Prog.

        0.0  -         0.0  -   - 
 

Post Grad, Dip./M.S./PhD. IN  Agricl, Forestry, & Fish. Prog./Home Eco.(Domestic Sci.) Programs

 -   -     -   - 
 

Post Grad, Dip./M.A./PhD. in Mass Comm. & Doc./Educ Prog at 3rd Level, 2nd Stage Leading to Post Graduate

           0.0  -      0.0  - 

Source: October Round, Labor Force Survey, NSO

 

Table 4: Top 10 Hard‐to‐Fill Professional Occupations in Non-Agricultural Establishments Employing 20 or More Workers, Philippines

Occupation Title Proportion of vacancies Rank
Professionals 2007/2008 2009/2010 2007/2008 2009/2010
Accountants and Auditors 9.63 13.42 1 1
Electronics and Communication Engineers 2.44 9.83 9 2
Systems Analysts and Designers 6.57 8.39 2 3
Mechanical Engineers 4.16 5.14 6 4
Electrical Engineers 6.04 4.42 3 5
Industrial Engineers 2.33 3.86 10 6
Medical Technologists 1.84 3.58 11 7
Pharmacists 1.54 2.52 14 8
Teaching Professionals for the Handicapped and Disabled   1.03 - 9
Chemical Engineers 2.74 0.76 7 10

Source: 2007/2008 and 2009/2010 BLES Integrated Survey

 

Table 5: Reasons Why Vacancies in Establishments Were Hard to Fill

Reason Percentage share (%)
2006 2007/2008 2009/2010
Applicants lack needed competency/skill 82.7 36.3 43.4
Applicants lack years of experience 18.6 15.4
Applicants lack professional license/TESDA skills certification 2.9 4.0
Applicants prefer overseas employment 5.1 2.9
No applicant 7.9 7.3
Applicants expect high salary 8.0 21.5 19.5
Location or work schedule problem 2.5 4.0 4.5
Others 6.4 3.4 2.4
No reason 0.3 0.4 0.8
Total  100.0 100.0 100.0

*may not add up to total due to rounding

Note: Total respondents were 8406, 14159, 15920 in 2006, 2007/2008, and 2009/2010, respectively.
Include non-agricultural establishments with 20 or more workers"

Source of data: Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, 2006, 2009/2010 BLES Integrated Survey (BITS)

 

Table 6: Reasons for being Unemployed, 1995

Reasons Percentage (%) Rank
No job opening in field of specialization' 10.87 1
Lack of professional eligibility requirements (board exam, etc.)  10.69 2
No interest in getting a job 10.56 3
Starting pay is low 10.51 4
College where I studied is not prestigious 10.23 5
Family situation prevents me from working 9.82 6
No connection in getting a job 9.6 7
No job opening for anyone 9.56 8
Inadequate experience 9.1 9
No job opening within the vicinity of my residence 9.07 10
Total 100  

Source: 1999 Graduate Tracer Study, Commission on Higher Education

 

 

Table 7: Passing Rates in Professional Licensure Examination Across All Disciplines and in Priority Disciplines

Discipline 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Across all disciplines 37.20 36.71 31.26 32.94 35.56 37.97 38.34 38.79 36.19 33.91 35.37
Priority Disciplines                      

     Sciences

50.09 52.37 44.57 46.74 49.03 51.00 53.14 49.16 54.31 56.02 53.53

    Maritime

70.50 73.47 62.02 42.27 45.53 48.48 47.63 51.48 50.36 51.41 50.47

    Medicine and Health Related

44.25 43.17 45.06 43.47 47.64 48.47 51.45 53.14 54.84 52.73 54.29

    Engineering and Technology

41.97 38.85 39.29 38.64 39.16 41.16 38.62 39.17 36.60 37.37 44.34

    Agriculture, Agri. Eng'g., Forestry, Vet. Med.

51.58 38.28 27.14 28.64 31.77 33.70 35.35 34.18 35.07 35.50 36.54

    Teacher Education

34.30 35.87 26.27 27.24 26.99 30.99 28.50 31.43 25.50 21.21 22.25

Source: Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

 

Table 8: Teacher-Pupil Ratio in Primary Schools, 2006-2010

Countries Number of Pupils Per Teacher (Primary)
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
           
Indonesia 1:20 1:19 1:17 1:17 1:16
           
Philippines 1:35 1:34 1:34 1:31 no data
           
Malaysia 1:16 1:15 1:15 1:13 no data
           
Thailand 1:18 1:18 1:16 no data no data
           
Cambodia 1:50 1:51 1:49 1:49 1:48
           
Vietnam 1:21 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

 

Table 9: Percentage of Higher Education Faculty Qualification

Faculty Qualification 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
% with MA/MS 25.5 21.6 30.1 30.6 34.5 33.1 31.3 34.8 35.0 38.9 41.4
% with PhD 7.7 8.5 9.2 9.1 10.1 9.7 9.0 9.8 9.7 11.1 12.7

Source: Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

 

 

Posted: 11 January 2013

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