Youth employment facilitation will further get a big boost as the amended Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) of the Department of Labor and Employment has expanded its benefits and coverage, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said yesterday.

 

In a year-end press briefing, Bello said Republic Act 10917 will not only help poor but deserving students and out of school youth finish their education but also engage them in a viable employment-bridging program.

“Under the SPES law, we will not only be serving poor but deserving students and out-of-school youth, but also dependents of displaced workers, and would-be displaced workers due to business closures or work stoppages, or natural calamities, who intend to enroll in any secondary, tertiary or technical-vocational institutions,” he said.

The law also extends the SPES employment period from 52 days to 78 days or three (3) months, and raises the age limit of the program’s beneficiaries from the current 15 to 25 years old to 15 to 30 years old.

In addition, students who are employed in activities related to their course may earn equivalent academic and practicum or on-the-job training credits.

“Under the new law, the SPES beneficiaries will be also be entitled to social protection by virtue of an insurance coverage with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for a period of one (1) year,” Bello said.

Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique R. Tutay said DOLE, with prior consultation and endorsement of the key stakeholders, will issue guiding and regulatory documents of the SPES implementation.

Originally mandated by RA 7323 in 1992, the program intends to overcome youth unemployment as it aims to provide poor but deserving high school, vocational or college students the opportunity to be employed and compensated during summer and/or Christmas breaks.

The SPES Act was initially amended by RA 9574 in 2009 that expanded the program’s reach, to include the out-of-school youth or student dropouts who have good track record, but were forced to stop schooling due to financial constraints, encouraging them to enroll in the next school term.

Private companies and employers are also encouraged to take part in shaping responsible citizens by employing students and compensating them equally.

“Employers pay in cash 60 percent of the salary of student beneficiaries, while the remaining 40 percent is shouldered by the government to be paid also in cash to be used for the students’ tuition fees and other education related expenses including their daily allowance for food and transportation in going to school,” Tutay said.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara authored and sponsored the originating Senate Bill (SB) No. 3090. The bill, which was adopted as an amendment to House Bill (HB) No. 6414 by the House of Representatives, was authored and sponsored by Representative Karlo Alexei B. Nograles.

END/GSR with report from KRMCruz

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