Ph employers hire college grads for work that requires only hi-school grads just because they can


That was the promise back when end-to-end primary and secondary education became a 12-year course for Filipinos. Under that set-up, it was expected that graduates of Year 12 would be ready for the workforce. Indeed, there are many types of work out there, many of them high-paying white collar-work, that the average high school graduate could theoretically perform. But the current mindset from the employer side tells a different story, however. Philippine employers currently require university grads to do even the most clerical or administrative types of work.

The most widely-discussed problem is the perceived skill gap between a high school grad and a university grad. The more confronting reality, however, is that there is such a huge gap between the quality of grads coming from elite private schools and those of lower-tier public schools that a graduate of an elite private high school will likely be seen as more employable than a college graduate of a non-elite school. This gap needs to be addressed as well, but it will require much investment in the public education system to bring it to parity with private institutions.

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Ultimately, the problem has the most to do with simple supply-and-demand economics. The Philippines’ labour supply is so enormous that it utterly dwarfs demand. As a result, the Philippine labour market is an employers’ market. Employers enjoy a vast abundance of options and are at liberty to choose. Competition is so tight on the jobseekers’ (supply) side that university grads are willing to fill roles that high school graduates would have been qualified for. As such it is not uncommon in the Philippines to find department store sales clerks and bank tellers who are university graduates.

That supply-and-demand issue alone weighs in so large that it makes it difficult to conceive of any other initiative that could make a dent in the prevalent behaviours of Filipino employers around recruiting overqualified personnel just because they can. One solution that could be explored is granting government subsidies to businesses that employ fresh high school graduates or take graduating students into internship or apprenticeship programs. Such programs could potentially allow high-school graduates to compete on a more equal footing with university graduates over the long run.

8 Replies to “Ph employers hire college grads for work that requires only hi-school grads just because they can”

  1. It is true the the skills gap between high schools and college graduates is very eide and far reaching that the truth is most of the college graduates cannot perform most of the tasks required to be performed simply because we are so enamored with the theoretical that the practical skills are learned when they start working. Indeed, lack of focus on the practical and important are side tracked in favor of the “board exam” mania.

  2. I am glad that my country has no such division between private and public schools. My country has no private schools. They are all public and parents have to pay tuition (fees) each school year (for their kids).
    I really wonder where, how and what the difference is between a PH private school and a PH public school. Is the curriculum different?

    Oh and btw: when a pupil leaves (graduates) from a dutch secondary/grade (high) school, it has basically been educated to become umployed. The only chance for a job are the low-paid ones.
    In other words: if you really want to achieve something, you have to continue studying (after high school/grade school/ secondary) and go to a higher level of education.

  3. Most of the college graduates, in our country, are graduates from “Diploma Mill” colleges. In college and university, there is more emphasis on theoretical matter in subjects. Students are taught more, to memorize; rather than think.

    Most courses have no , internship training. In vocational schools, there is no apprenticeship programs. We are not an industrialized country, and we are producing college graduates by the millions, every year. Most end up as OFW,s, in foreign countries.

    College students in technical and scientific courses, have obsolete textbooks. In industrialized countries; college textbooks are upgraded, every semester of the course.

    Most companies, prefer job applicants with good years of experience in the work place. Entry level jobs, for new college graduates are low paying. The pay does not compensate their years of study in getting a diploma.

    So, when our college graduates, go for OFW . You will find , medical doctors working as nurses; nurses working as nurses aides; engineers working as factory workers; teachers working as nannies; accountants working as bank tellers or clerks, lawyers working as lawyer’s clerk or waiters, etc…

    Our educational system must be fixed, to align more on the needs of the country, for industrialization.

    1. Those college graduates working in retail are not recognizable college graduates. Dull eyes and dull brains. They are products of inept educational systems.

  4. Much of what is learned in college ends up practically unused in actual work. Take Math for example.

    When was the last time anyone here used polynomials at work?

    So an enormous amount of investment into educating these students simply goes down the drain. Replacing half of existing subjects with values education and venues for creative expression for those who will just end up in clerical jobs is worth considering.

    I suggest a 1 hour class MWF where students just meditate and discuss the Creed of Winners.

    1. Why don’t Philippine university courses specialize in the actual degree, instead of continuing these multiple subjects like it’s high school? The system seems designed to produce all-rounders rather than specialists. In the UK, compulsory high school with all the subjects ends at 16, then you can narrow down to the 3-4 you’re interested in until 18, then do your actual degree for 3+ years where every module’s directly related to the title on the degree.

  5. You fix this problem by opening the economy.

    No more 60/40 economic sanctions in the constitution. YES to full FDI.

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