When COVID-19 hit the country in March 2020, the Philippine government implementation of lockdowns and curfews to prevent the spread of the virus nationwide have paralyzed both small businesses and big industries which then had led to job losses of more than four million Filipinos. While the exact statistics on unemployment of young people resulting from the pandemic are yet to be revealed, it is crystal clear that COVID-19 has severely hurt job opportunities for young people in the Philippines.

One of the flagship programs of DOLE for young people is the JobStart Philippines Program, it is the youth employment facilitation program that aims to help unemployed youth aged 18 to 24 through life skills and technical trainings, and paid internship or work experience to improve their employability.

The implementation of the program was temporarily halted during the onslaught of the pandemic in 2020 to recalibrate its implementation strategy including the shift to and use of digital learning materials and technology to implement its training modules.

On 2021 and with the resumption of the Program, LGU Pagadian City was given the green light to proceed with the implementation of the program so that young people in the city can be assisted to find quality jobs and remain resilient amid the pandemic. LGU Pagadian City is the only implementer of the Program in Zamboanga Peninsula.

On July 16, 2021, 100 Young Pagadianons started their JobStart journey through the orientation conducted by DOLE-9 Zamboanga del Sur Field Office in partnership with Pagadian City-Public Employment Service Office (PESO).

On the initial first phase of the program, the JobStarters have gone through a 10-day Life Skills Training to develop their personal competencies and work ethics to prepare them for professional success.

The training modules were accessed by Jobstarters using the online learning portal developed by DOLE and Yes Academy. Each trainee was provided with 200 Pesos load and 3,000 Pesos stipend for the duration of the 10-day training.

Atty. Roy L. Buenafe, the Regional Director of DOLE-9 said that the Department saw the urgency to continue Jobstart training so young people can find jobs and remain resilient amid the pandemic.

“We are helping unemployed youth become more employable by equipping them with the necessary skills to thrive in the new normal” added Atty. Buenafe.
On September 28, 2021, JobStarters moved to the second phase of the program which involves 44-day technical trainings such as Food and Beverage NCII, Bookkeeping NCIII, and Health Care Services NCII being handled by trainers provided by partner employers in coordination with Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).

Mary Phil L. Ordaniza, 22-year-old and a mother of two children was among the beneficiaries of the Program, she comes from a poor family and doesn’t have formal education prior to joining the program, she is currently undergoing her Health Care Services NCII training at Aisah Medical Hospital.

“I was informed by the Barangay that PESO Pagadian is looking for trainees for the JobStart Program. I decided to apply because I wanted to have a better future for me and my children. This program opens an opportunity for me to be trained in a prestigious Aisah Medical Hospital and I am close to being hired by them after the training. I was also able to support my family during the Pandemic through the stipend that I am receiving from DOLE while undergoing this training,” said Ms. Ordaniza.

Engr. Vince Quipot VI, the PESO Manager of Pagadian City expressed his gratitude to DOLE for all the assistance given to PESO Pagadian City. DOLE hired and deployed one (1) JobStart Coordinator to LGU Pagadian City to assist them in the implementation of the JobStart Program.

“Implementing the program during the pandemic is quite challenging because of the many restrictions that we have to observed and follow. But with the support of our partners from the DOLE, DICT, YES Academy, partner employers, and the Jobstarters itself, it has turned-out to be a rewarding and meaningful year for the JobStart Program in Pagadian City” Added Engr. Quipot.

JobStarters are expected to complete the second phase on December 03, 2021 and proceed to the final internship phase of the program before the end of this year. During the internship, JobStarters will be deployed to the premises of the partner employers, and they will be paid a compensation rate of not less than 75% of the prevailing minimum wage in the region.

The program is also supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, it further aims to improve the delivery of employment facilitation services led by Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs). ###