DepEd, ECOP, and Microsoft Launch Nationwide Skilling Program to Enhance Employability of Millions of Filipino High School Graduates

The Department of Education (DepEd) recently partnered with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and Microsoft to launch “Building impactful resume and professional brand online,” to raise the employability for senior high school (SHS) graduates across the Philippines.

Over 260,000 learners and teachers participated in the virtual event, where they were taught how to build impactful online resumes for LinkedIn and maximize the full features of the platform to connect effectively with industry practitioners.As most businesses now require digital skills from talents, learners were given free access and skilled on Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and Minecraft Education. Students were further upskilled on online skilling platforms such as Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, and Microsoft Imagine Academy to bolster their learning and credentials

“By providing our SHS learners access to LinkedIn and skilling platforms such as Microsoft Learn, Microsoft Imagine Academy, and LinkedIn Learning, students will be given the opportunity to not just connect professionally with industry practitioners but also acquire competencies and digital certifications,” said Alain Del B. Pascua, DepEd Undersecretary for Administration. “More opportunities will open up for them after completing learning paths in digital productivity, computer science, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and data science which are all aligned to in-demand technical and product skills, and the most in-demand jobs, globally.”

“We are delighted to be a part of this program, empowering new graduates with relevant digital skills and expose them this early to technologies that can really help learners be equipped for the workplace,” said Joanna Velez Rodriguez, Public Sector Director of Microsoft Philippines. “Microsoft is committed to supporting the digital transformation journey of 23 million students and close to 900,000 teachers of the DepEd through technology and programs that promote digital literacy, STEM education, and skills advancement”.

Critical need for new employable skills and further training

While majority of SHS graduates in the Philippines pursue further studies upon graduation, 20 percent enter the labor force immediately, according to a 2020 research from the Philippines Institute of Development Studies. This translates to considerable digital skills gaps for many graduates.

A recent Philippine Business for Education (PBED) study group revealed only 20 percent of the 70 leading companies in the Philippines are inclined to hire SHS graduates due to perceptions that new graduates are not work-ready.

Through the new partnership with ECOP and Microsoft, DepEd is introducing new initiatives to complement the K to 12 basic education program to prepare students with the necessary skills for the modern workplace to address the workforce and employer gaps. Students who have earned a certificate of completion jointly issued by DepEd, ECOP, and Microsoft will be given a higher chance of being employed by ECOP member companies.

“As employers, we hire and put value on skills and certifications.  As an example, a senior high school graduate looking for work with a Microsoft 365 certification or Team’s administrator certification would put that graduate on top of any HR list for hiring. Currently, as businesses transition to digitalization, companies are putting priority on individuals with digital skills, training, or certification. As evidence, practically all jobs require a level of digital competency”, said Ferdinand Ferrer, Chair of the Job Creation Committee of ECOP.

As part of the skilling initiative, online training programs on communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, empathy, presentation skills, interview tips, workplace ethics, and much more will soon be available to learners. All of these are to ensure that Filipino students have 21st-century skills for the workplace.

Microsoft will work closely with DepEd for the full extension of the program to Grade 10 and 11 learners and ensure skilling and certification support for over 5 million  DepEd junior and senior high school students every year.  Furthermore, in collaboration with DepEd’s Curriculum and Instruction strand, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Business sector- is the full development and expansion of the SHS Internship and Immersion Program. This program will enable Grade 11 students to work for the DepEd and other government agencies, while Grade 12 students will gain work experience in the private sector.