Options for the jobless

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2009

There will be at least 350,000 new graduates of Philippine colleges and universities this year. Not all will find jobs in the field they have earned diplomas in.

The business process outsourcing (BPO) firms are finding it hard to find qualified workers from Filipino college graduates. Many of those BPO talent scouts pursue prefer jobs elsewhere. According to a report of the research group and think tank Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade (UACT), which services the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), only six and at most 10 Filipino college graduates who applied with and were screened by Filipino as well as Philippine branches of multinational BPO firms were hired. Why? The applicants’ inadequate proficiency in English and in other required skills.

Some 41,000 Filipinos have so far lost their jobs, President Gloria Arroyo said on Tuesday. Which is good news, in a sense, because earlier job-loss figures bandied about were much higher.

What are your options?

If you can’t get an office job or blue-collar work, what are your options?

If you could forgo the search for the pay envelope, there are many things you could do for yourself or your community. You can continue improving yourself or do community service.

Sen. Richard Gordon, Philippine National Red Cross chairman, recently asked for volunteers to serve their fellowmen. That’s a good start. You can help the local school teach reading and writing. You can coach the neighborhood basketball team.

Continue your personal and professional growth. Education does not stop after leaving school; it’s for life. Visit the library. Read, read anything, from newspapers, books, to comic books. This is the secret of successful dropouts and undergraduates. They were voracious readers.

Take a Civil Service Exam. The Civil Service Commission conducts lots of exams in different occupations. You may not feel qualified, but take a chance anyway. You may pass the test and add civil service eligibility to your resume. Think you’re smart? Do you have the aptitude to become a diplomat? The Department of Foreign Affairs will hold an exam for Foreign Service officers in May.

Learn a foreign language other than English. A second language will open doors for you. Did you know that call-center workers who speak Spanish get a higher pay than those who don’t? And please hone your English, written and oral. Even law graduates have a problem passing the Bar because they cannot discuss a case in plain English.

Be a self-employed entrepreneur

Start a small business. The Arroyo administration has an ambitious package for micro enterprises. With a home-based business, you could employ others and provide needed products and services. The National Statistics Office says that the informal sector employed 10.5 million last year. With good planning and a modest capital, you could become a self-employed entrepreneur.

 If you plan to stay longer with your parents, at least be useful at home. You can help mother by cooking or washing clothes. You could help dad by being frugal, shunning all kinds of waste. If you can’t change the world, you can at least improve life at home.

Finally, try to be a good citizen. Cast your vote on election time, but focus on the issues, not the personalities. Pay your taxes willingly and correctly. If you pay your taxes dutifully, you have a greater right to demand service and to protest red tape. Filipinos who don’t pay taxes accept government foolishness for granted.

Try to be as purposeful as Obama

It’s not too bad to lower your sights. After Barack Obama graduated from college, his mother wanted him to go to law school. His friends applied for jobs on Wall Street. But he wanted to work at the grassroots level to bring about change and wrote to every organization he could think of. One day, a small group of churches on the south side of Chicago offered him a job as community organizer in neighborhoods ravaged by plant closings. The pay was P12,000 a year. It wasn’t the pay but the challenge of bringing the community together that prompted the young graduate to accept the job. It was a life-defining decision.

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