/ 2 May 2023

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian called on the private sector to provide more employment opportunities for Senior High School graduates who took up the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education conducted a hearing on Senate Bill 2022 or the proposed Batang Magaling Act as he sought to address the mismatch between the skills of K to 12 graduates and the demands of the labor market.

During the hearing, Gatchalian asked the Employers Confederation of the Philippines or ECOP if member-companies hire TVL SHS graduates. He emphasized that the graduates underwent training for specific vocational jobs and the work immersion program provided them the opportunity to become familiar with the workplace and to apply their competencies in various work environments.

ECOP Legal Services Manager Robert Maronilla said employers still prefer to employ college graduates over SHS graduates except when SHS graduates have secured a certification of a specialization.

Maronilla said SHS students taking the TVL track should be more focused on hard-to-fill-in jobs such as those in the agriculture and automotive sectors.

To encourage cooperation of industry partners, the Batang Magaling Act seeks to include work immersion programs in Section 34 of Republic Act 11534, otherwise known as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or CREATE, which can boost the employability of SHS graduates.

The said provision in CREATE allows an additional deduction from the taxable income of one-half of the value of labor training expenses incurred for skills development of enterprise-based trainees enrolled in public senior high schools, public higher education institutions or public technical and vocational institutions.

“The intention is to give incentives as a form of deductible. So, if you accept senior high school students in your company as part of their work immersion program, that work immersion program can be used as a deductible,” Gatchalian said.

“The law’s provision intends to encourage private corporations to train senior high school students because they can later use the cost of the training as a deductible,” he added.