Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, reporting on the five-year accomplishment of the Department in the implementation of the Special Program for Employment of Students, or SPES, yesterday said that at the close of December 2014, a total of 691,333 poor, but deserving, student-beneficiaries across the country benefited from provided short-term employment.
“Not only were these young people given the opportunity to earn money to support their education. What’s more important was that they earned or gained the necessary basic skills to prepare them for the world of work,” Baldoz said.
Under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, Baldoz said the DOLE strengthened and intensified the implementation of SPES, resulting to the real transformation of thousands of lives of Filipino students.
In the previous administration, only 353,746 students were able to avail of the program. This shows a 95 percent increase in the number of SPES beneficiaries under the present dispensation, she said.
Baldoz said that President Aquino III has been true to his promise of “investing on human resource”, especially the youth, by consistently increasing the SPES’s budget.
“In 2015, the budget for SPES rose to P697 million by 41.96 percent than the 2014 budget of P491.48 million—which in turn was higher by 5.21 percent than the 2013 budget of P467.13 million. In 2012, the SPES budget reached P340.31 million, which is 107.50 percent higher than the 2011 budget of P164 million—which in turn was higher by 8.6 percent than the 2010 budget of P151 million. This is a cumulative increase of 361.58 percent increase since the start of the administration,” she said.
Citing the consolidated report of the Bureau of Local Employment, Baldoz number of SPES beneficiaries shot up, too, with the increased financial aid. The records revealed an increase from 84,786 student-beneficiaries in 2010; to 120,312 beneficiaries in 2011; to 138,635 students in 2012; to 167,569 students in 2013; and to 182,573 in 2014.
As of June 2015, the DOLE was able to accommodate and provide short-term jobs to 169,246 students, representing at least 87.10 percent of the 194,300 students targeted this year.
SPES is a bridging mechanism that enables student-beneficiaries to gain skills and workplace experience. It responds to the President’s 22-Point Labor and Employment Agenda which calls for the DOLE to work with relevant government agencies in enhancing social protection programs as well as the Emergency Community Employment Program (ECEP) to create jobs immediately so people can still have income to spend for their basic needs.
Under the SPES, students get paid a minimum wage 40 percent of which is in the form of a voucher applicable for the payment of tuition fees and books in any secondary, tertiary, vocational or technical educational institution. The 60 percent is paid in cash by the employers. They are also entitled to other benefits and privileges under the Labor Code.
“The SPES is an opportunity to enhance the employability of the youth, who will eventually be the next generation of the country’s workforce. More than giving the students gainful experience while earning some cash they can use when they go back to school, we want a long-term result of the SPES program by means of increased employment opportunities to the beneficiaries,” Baldoz said.
Private sectors employs SPES beneficiaries mainly as food service crews, customer touch points, office clerks, gasoline attendants, cashiers, sales ladies, “promodizers”, and many other positions. LGUs participating in the SPES assign the students to clerical, encoding, and messengerial duties, as well as other computer and programming jobs.
“The DOLE highly considers the private sector as partners to reinforce the long-term impact of the program to our student-beneficiaries. Such partnership is borne out of their corporate social responsibility as they take part in helping more students,” Baldoz she finally said.