May 31, 2021
by Mary Joy Saludo
As the lockdowns and quarantines continue to take place, many college and high school students are graduating in the new normal. Multiple post-graduation plans such as applying for colleges, masters, or job opportunities are no longer the same. This is true for many graduating students at the start of the pandemic last year and with the ongoing pandemic this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines around March 15, 2020, a few months before a huge number of graduations. Ever since then, schools all over the world have resorted to online or modular education to complete the school year. Graduations were delayed, suspended, or even done online as large gatherings, especially at the time were strictly prohibited. It was this year that students were to transition from education to employment. However, job opportunities in the new normal proved difficult at the time even for non-students.
In partnership with Philippine S&T Development Foundation-Manila, Inc. (PhilDev), the Philippines Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) continually supports the scholars who were pursuing STEM courses in their academic studies across the country. As such, new normal graduates, for instance, Daniel Joshua “DJ” Beja, a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering graduate has been featured in honor and congratulatory. Many other graduates like him postponed their graduation ceremony and family celebration. DJ chose to help his community with his “Bayanihan Shirt Project” and donated around hospitals in Cagayan de Oro.
Similarly to these graduates having to postpone their board exams or job applications, many high school graduates are temporarily postponing their college applications by taking a gap year. Even students who are not graduates are taking a gap year. In fact, there are nearly three million Filipino students and children still out of school for the “pandemic school year” (S.Y. 2020-2021). Many struggles with distance learning through online classes and modules due to slow internet speeds, learning difficulties, lack of funds for tuition, etc. Fortunately, for the most part, many students are using their gap year for themselves such as rest for their mental and physical health and to give more time for themselves and their families. After all, it is important for the youth to be able to progress at their own pace.
There is a lot of uncertainty for college graduates looking for jobs in this pandemic. A graduate from last year named Jay Ramirez applied for more than twenty companies but has had minimal luck in finding a job as his applications were sent through emails with little to no responses. He believes that if it were not for the pandemic, he would probably already be working right now. More fresh graduates were struggling with finding a job or even getting an offer, especially since it would be safer for most companies to hire candidates with working experience. October of last year had the lowest unemployment rate at approximately 8.7% or 3.8 million Filipinos who are 15 years and older according to the latest preliminary results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s quarterly Labor Force Survey on December 3.
Fortunately, it may be a little easier for job applicants this year and even better if they already prepared the proper pre-employment documents and requirements beforehand. Depending on the office, for fresh graduates and first-time job-seekers as of 2019, there are options for free pre-employment documentary requirements. Important documents they may need would be: birth certificate, NBI Clearance, transcript of records/diploma, SSS, Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth Membership, and BIR. Depending on the requirements issued by the company or the government, they may also need barangay clearance, marriage certificate, medical certificate, police clearance certificate, or Tax Identification Number (TIN). In order to avail of the benefits, the applicants will need to present a certificate from their barangay as proof they are indeed first-time applicants. Some government documents that will not be processed for free are such: DFA, Career Service Examination, Driver’s License, Philippines passport, and Professional licensure examination.
It is uncertain when this pandemic will end or eventually ease down, especially when the Philippines so far has one of the world’s longest lockdowns, but it is certain that the youth are doing their best or what they can during this global calamity.