“The Youth is the Hope of Our Nation” A Journey from Three Bright Filipino Researchers

As One of Filipino Heroes, Dr. Jose Rizal, said, “ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” which means “the youth is the hope of our nation”, one of bright and young researchers hopes that the governments and other related stakeholder realize the potential of the youth to become catalysts for change and that they are willing to take the step forward in empowering all youth, not just a particular demographic. This young researcher from the Philippines is Gerald John C. Guillermo or GJ in short.

GJ was involved in the initial research as a part of the Bridges to the Future: ASEAN Youth Employment programme aiming to explore the current trend of Youth Job Market and Skills Demand across the region. As a Political Science Graduate, he has a genuine interest in being involved in various volunteer work and opportunities. That’s why being able to join this research has brought him to another level of experience that he finds valuable.

He joined the research as a young researcher with expectation and motivation of being able to see directly what Filipino youth have been going through and experiencing in terms of getting into an early career journey. There are two things that he found most interesting through his research journey. First, the access to skill improvement bridging youth to the jobs is still limited based on what the respondents said.

While it is important to provide the necessary knowledge about foundational learnings, it is also necessary that learning institutions must bridge the divide in providing access to jobs at any level of education. At the very least, it doesn’t only entail “the youth should see for themselves how to get a job,” but rather we equip you with basic knowledge on how to get a job because not all institutions have that in mind,” GJ explained.

The second thing that he realised from the journey was that there is the disparity of opportunities between varying level of education, while, GJ personally thinks that level of education should not be the only one measurement and consideration to get the youth into their career path.

Youth with lower level of education should be supported with greater access to skills building opportunities in order to uplift and make a more competitive labor force. Technical skills training must be open for everyone, particularly those looking to upskill and have better work opportunities,” he emphasised.

Another high-spirited young researcher that took a role as a Quality Control Assistant and Researcher Translator of this research is April Rose Nalangan. April believes that the research is, in a way, empathetic and futuristic, echoing the voice of youth.

April gained a new experience and got a wider perspective on how PWD communities have been going through the process with struggles, especially given these challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic.

This research taught me how to be more inclusive in hiring people, especially PWDs. It is empowering to see their perspective so that I can change mine for a better approach,” April shared her thought.

Despite the challenge she faced during the transcription and translation process, April was amazed with the insights she gained together with PWD communities about inclusion in career environment that can be started with inclusive hiring process supporting all humans to be able to get a job.

I hope that this research can be a good start and recommendation for relevant institutions in encouraging all job providers, including private sectors, to have more inclusive procedures in hiring and sourcing PWD communities. Filipinos should open their eyes to reality and embrace the existence of PWDs in a corporate world which will give better opportunities to these youth especially amidst this pandemic. Because the younger generation, no matter what, is the future!” April beautifully wrapped up her story.

A Field Qualitative Researcher from the Philippines, Nattaya Kay Jaratruangsaeng’s journey completed GJ and April’s incredible experience. Nattaya truly believes the Filipino youth are filled with potential, yet this COVID-19 pandemic has also placed them at a loss on what to do.

As we face youth unemployment, this research may support the multi-stakeholder collaboration amongst NGOs, the government, and the private sectors to work together for a more cohesive region,” she highlighted.

This ex-ASEAN Foundation’s intern shared how youth now are worried about getting a job amidst the pandemic. This has made her think of all of the questions about underserved groups of youth. Her research journey has brought her closer into the answers, since her respondents were underserved groups.

I am moved by their spirit and passion! One of them told me the story of how he was taken advantage of at work for his visual impairment, yet, he did not stop and keep improving his knowledge and skills,” she explained.

From her journey, Nattaya gained one greatest insight that is youth and underserved groups’ future career journey should be taken into account in the development effort by widening the space as well as opportunity to discuss as one of starting points, aside from this research result, to develop comprehensive and inclusive plan tackling youth unemployment issues in the Philippines. Not only by strengthening formal education system, but also providing the acceleration of skill improvement and resilience building.   

I really do hope that this initiative can somehow encourage the job providers of companies to improve the hiring process to become more open to underserved youth or PWD communities. 

Nattaya’s hope and thoughts are aligned with GJ’s too. They genuinely believe that all the nation must embrace the youth’s momentum and include them in the decision-making process, since the youth are dynamic, enthusiastic, and willing to connect, express their voices, and fight for change and a better future. Three of these bright researchers believe that collaborative actions amongst stakeholders are highly critical to ride youth dynamism to a meaningful as well as impactful change.

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