MANILA, Oct 20 (Mabuhay) — Vice President Sara Duterte expressed hopes on Wednesday that the business sector would provide more job opportunities for Grade 12 graduates, during the celebration of the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

VP SARA WITH BIZ LEADERS. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte (middle) poses for a souvenir photo with Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman William Co (left), PCCI president George T. Barcelon (2nd from left), vice president and chair of the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) Ferdinand Ferrer (2nd from right); and Honorary chairman and treasurer, PCCI and Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz Luis Jr. (right) during the 48th PBC&E 2022 at Manila Hotel in Manila City on Wednesday (Oct. 19, 2022). Duterte served as a keynote speaker at the event. (MNS photo)

In a speech, Duterte said this is crucial not only for the lives of the young graduates but also for nation-building as a whole.

“We have also just signed the First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act – Joint Operational Guidelines with the Department of Labor and Employment. The operational guidelines are a crucial step in the implementation of RA 11261, or the First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act. We expect more first-time jobseekers, especially our K-12 graduates, to be given the opportunity to process their pre-employment requirements immediately and cost-free,” she said.

The Vice President, who is also the concurrent chief of the Department of Education (DepEd), said graduates, once ready for employment, may be considered valuable assets for the country’s workforce.

“We are a nation comprised of young, able, and ambitious human resources. Each year, thousands of graduates join our workforce,” she added.

The education chief even urged the sector to sit with the Education department for cooperation, considering the challenges posed by job mismatch.

“I invite you to come sit with us during our education stakeholders’ convergence next month to uncover opportunities for collaboration and public-private partnerships. We need transformational leadership from the business sector,” Duterte said.

The DepEd earlier said it will start its curriculum review for the Senior High School program, particularly for Grades 11 and 12 in November to improve strategies and ensure employability for graduates.

In a separate ambush interview, Duterte said the DepEd is now considering the suggestions from the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Labor and Employment.

“We are still continuing our meetings and discussions on how to make Grade 12 graduates ready for employment. Mayroon pa kaming mga ginagawa na kailangan natin ayusin sa K-12 program. But nagpauna na po ako sa ating mga business sector na kapag ready na po sila, sana ay mabigyan sila ng first priority sa hiring ng ating businesses (We are now doing some necessary adjustments on the K-12 program. But I have initially told our business sector that whenever they are ready, they should be granted priority in business hiring),” she said.

Moreover, the Vice President insisted the DepEd is “aware of the schools’ poor performance” in the international assessments, hence, the need for review and intensified multi-sectoral collaboration.

For now, Duterte empahsized the importance of pushing for in-person classes to address learning gaps among learners.

She added that public schools are prepared for its full implementation come Nov. 2.

“Meron tayong mga (We have) public schools, [that] were just waiting because they were allowed the options from August to November 2, lahat sila, yung ready na, na nag-aantay lang ng mandatory face-to-face ay mag-shift na sila to Mandatory five days in-person classes (all of them, those which are ready, are just waiting for the mandatory face-to-face for them to shift to five days in-person classes),” she said.

Under DepEd Order 44, all public schools shall implement full five-day in-person classes starting Nov. 2, except for those granted exemptions by the regional directors, or disaster-affected areas. (MNS)