By Saul E. Pa-a
Laguna, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the city government of Calamba's joint undertaking on the expanded Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) augurs well in providing the youth and students affordable education and vast employment opportunities, according to City Mayor Joaquin Chipeco Jr.
Speaking before hundreds of working students under the SPES orientation program here Friday, Mayor Chipeco inspired the city's SPES beneficiaries and their parents for putting premium on the children's education and providing a good and solid foundation.
The mayor also advanced his development projects for the City College's notable accomplishments by producing quality professionals in various disciplines since it started a few years ago with basic and core educational courses at affordable costs.
Chipeco pitched in his city's "1,000 percent" support to the SPES project by raising the city government's share to P315 per day, higher than the P200 shelled out by other local governments. He pledged to increase further the city's share in the coming years.
The DOLE, as program chair, contributes 40 percent of SPES cost-sharing arrangement with the other 60 percent stake by the employer.
The program has since been expanded through Republic Act No. 9547 enacted in July 2008 from the previous law, R.A. 7323 which originally covered the summer months to include the Christmas vacation as working periods for poor but deserving students in the high school level.
The labor department also expanded the coverage in the tertiary, vocational and technical education students who can be employed at any time of the year from 20 to 52 days by the participating employers to augment their income for educational purposes.
In coordination with the government's public employment service office (PESO), the SPES recipients are informed on their employment rights, benefits and privileges under existing laws, company policies and through their employment contracts. The city PESO is the frontline implementer for the matching and referrals.
Chipeco underscored the need and importance of the SPES program, saying "this will help you tide over during the summer months, and the reason why your parents are striving, working hard for long hours because we want our children to have a better future."
The mayor drew inspirations from how the country experienced three waves in the job and employment history. The first wave, he said, was the exodus of thousands of overseas Filipinos in search of greener pastures because of their love for their families.
The second wave occurred with the establishment of the government's economic and investors' hubs through the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
"Businesses and investments provide job opportunities. That's why we offer them tax incentives," he explained.
Chipeco expressed optimism for "the third wave as forthcoming with the influx of call centers and the advent of the next wave cities in the region, starting with Santa Rosa and next with Calamba City groomed to be the next Makati of Southern Tagalog."
"Kayong lahat dito ay puedeng ma-accommodate sa call centers. Whereas, once upon a time, I struggled to find work and tried to make both ends meet," Chipeco disclosed.
Rep. Justin Marc Chipeco also inspired the working students that their responsibility of working to help their parents defray the burden of tuition fees "will bear sweeter success with your educational endeavors."
"Ginagawa ito ng ating gobyerno because we really want to help you. Gusto naming maramdaman nyo na ang gobyerno nyo ay nagtatrabahao para sa inyo and giving you more opportunities," the Laguna lawmaker said.
According to the solon, Calamba posted the highest number of qualified SPES beneficiaries and he assured that "we are trying to lure investors here so you don't have to venture far to find jobs when you finish college."
DOLE-Calabarzon acting Regional Director Alex Avila expounded the SPES objectives in helping the students and their parents attain their education and in exposing them to the values and work ethics.
Avila also assured of DOLE's continuing support following President Benigno S. Aquino III's directives last year to increase the budget allocations for the SPES, making it a continuing year-round program.
Avila expressed appreciation to the Calamba City government's 100 percent support and dynamic leadership of Mayor Chipeco for the SPES project.
He also exhorted student beneficiaries to not only enjoy the summer jobs but also learn from the work values and ethics instilled by the SPES for their quality work performance and preparedness to join the labor force.
Engr. Ignacio Sanque, Laguna DOLE provincial director, estimated some 15 to 20 percent absorption and placements among SPES graduates in the local government-sponsored job fairs.
Sanque also said that more than the job fairs, where about 10 to 50 percent could be reached, there are a number of SPES graduates who successfully land in their jobs through direct applications.
He reported DOLE's intensified efforts for private sector's participation this year by forging partnerships through memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with business establishments.
Participating government agencies chaired by DOLE and the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Budget and Management (DBM) and Finance (DOF) forged the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-001 to ensure implementation for the SPES.