Graduate tracer study seeks to address job mismatch

One of the major factors for underemployment and the difficulty in finding jobs is the inability of graduates to meet the necessary skills and competencies required by the industry.

According to the National Statistics Office, the unemployment rate in April 2012 is at 6.9 percent or 2.803 million while the underemployment rate is at 19.3 percent (7.312 million).

In its April 2012 Labor Force Survey, the NSO revealed that more than half or 51.7 percent of the unemployed were in the age group of 15-24. Of this number, 32.8 percent are high school graduates, 13.8 percent are college undergraduates, and 21.0 percent are college graduates.

For the past years, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has been closely working with industry stakeholders to address the job mismatch. Industry representatives are being involved in the development of curricula and standards, on-the-job-training programs, apprenticeships, faculty immersion, assessment-based talent development and other activities.

In a bid to address the growing job mismatch in the country, CHED, in collaboration with the De La Salle University College of Education will conduct a national Graduate Tracer Study (GTS) to determine the employability of graduates based on their respective disciplines.

Through the study, CHED hopes to assess the issues concerning employability and the relevance of higher education programs vis-a-vis expectations of the employers. It will use the results of the study to monitor the quality of programs offered in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs); provide incentives to institutions; prioritize or de-prioritize courses; determine the basis for allocating scholarships; and investigate whether 21st century skills are properly and adequately taught to college students.

ONLINE SURVEY

The commissioned study will be conducted via an online survey that will run until October 31, 2012. Some 58,000 tertiary-level graduates (from batch 2006-2010) from 837 HEIs all over the country (including state universities and colleges, locally funded universities and colleges, and private universities and colleges) are being targeted for the study.

Respondents must be graduates of either bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in the CHED-identified disciplines which are namely: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Architecture and Town Planning; Business Administration; Related Education Science and Teacher Training; Engineering and Technology; Fine and Applied Arts; General; Home Economics; Humanities; IT-Related Disciplines; Law and Jurisprudence; Maritime; Mass Communication and Documentation; Mathematics; Medical and Allied; Natural Science; Religion and Theology Service Trades; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and Trade, Craft and Industrial degree programs.

The 10-minute survey will have questions on the knowledge and competency traits that respondents are using in their current job; the quality of their undergraduate education; and how their degree has helped them apply their skills and competencies to their current job, among others.

Dr. Maricar Prudente, a professor at the DLSU College of Education and the assistant project leader of the study says they are using a stratified two-stage sampling design for the survey. It is stratified according to geographic location based on the regions and the kind of HEI identified by CHED.

After collating the data from the survey, Dr. Prudente says their team will conduct five focus group discussions with industry stakeholders in the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to integrate the findings. This will be followed by their write-up of the final findings and analysis of the data.

Two other GTS has been conducted by CHED in 1999 in collaboration with the Center for Research and Communication; and in 2004 with a private firm.

The team for this year's GTS is being led by former dean of DLSU College of Education Dr. Roberto Borromeo and Dr. Prudente, along with survey consultants Dr. Jun Pacificador, Benjie Vergel de Dios, and Cecilia Ubarra from the DLSU Department of Mathematics. Its industry supporters are the Business Processing Association of the Philippines, Infocomm Technology Association of the Philippines, and the People Management Association of the Philippines.

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