To further strengthen the Special Employment of Students (SPES) the popular bridging program that enhances the employability of young student-workers, the Department of Labor and Employment has partnered with a US-based research institution and with an international grant-making non-government organization to conduct an impact evaluation of the SPES program.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said Innovations Poverty Action (IPA,) a non-profit organization based in Connecticut, USA, will spearhead the impact evaluation, together with the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), a global grant-making Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that promotes evidence-informed development policies and programmes, under the Philippine Policy Window.
“We have incorporated the SPES as a priority program to be evaluated by 3ie under Philippine Policy Window of the DOLE. This window develops and fund rigorous, mixed-methods impact evaluations commissioned by policymakers and programme managers to answer questions about the impact of interventions they implement in the Philippines,” Baldoz said.
In support of the impact evaluation project, Secretary Baldoz constituted a DOLE SPES –Technical Working Group (TWG) to assist the research partners in the conduct of the impact evaluation.
“We created a special TWG to support a robust and credible impact evaluation of SPES, in order for us to identify key policy and program implications that would further enhance the delivery of the program,” she added.
The SPES-TWG is headed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Employability of Workers and Competitiveness of Enterprises Cluster, with the following offices as its members: Bureau of Local Employment (BLE); Institute of Labor Studies (ILS); Planning Service (PS); Labor Communications Office (LCO); and selected DOLE Regional Offices—NCR, 3, 4-A, 7, 11, and 13.
As provided for in Administrative Order No. 406, series of 2015, the BLE, as the program manager of SPES, shall provide the necessary technical and operational/administrative assistance. Said assistance includes provision of administrative data and reports; and facilitating coordination and collaboration between the partners conducting SPES impact evaluation and SPES implementers and focal persons in DOLE regional offices and Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs).
The ILS shall provide support for capacity-building activities and research matters; while the PS shall provide the needed facilities for planning, programming, project monitoring, and evaluation, as well as the development and implementation of a management information system for SPES.
The LCO, on the other hand, shall provide the technical support in the dissemination of accurate and timely information relevant to the SPES for the benefit of program partners and clients.
Meanwhile, the DOLE regional offices will be tasked to coordinate and provide operational and administrative support to the impact evaluation implements of the IPA.
“The SPES has definitely made a difference in the lives of millions of Filipino students who have no means but have the ability to pursue college education,” Baldoz said.
“We are placing great emphasis on the implementation and evaluation of SPES under the specific directives of President Benigno S. Aquino III, who has been true to his promise of “investing on human resource”, especially the youth, by consistently increasing the SPES budget,” Baldoz said.
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.
The labor and employment chief, on this note, said that because of the budget increase, the DOLE was able to reach more beneficiaries. In 2011, the program was extended to a total of 120,312 students; in 2012, a total of 138,635 students; in 2013, a total of 167,569 students; and last year, 182,573 students.
As of June 2015, the DOLE was able to reach a total of 169,246 SPES beneficiaries.
Established in 1992 under Republic Act No. 7323, which was amended by RA 9547, the SPES is open to all qualified high school, college or vocational/technical students, and out-of-school-youth.
Under the SPES Act, students or OSY who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply for the SPES: (1) at least 15 to 25 years old; (2) combined net income after tax of parents, including his/her own income, if any, does not exceed the latest annual regional poverty threshold level for a family of six as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority; and (c) applicant has an average passing grade during last school year/term attended (for students).
Qualified OSYs may already visit the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in their locality and submit the SPES requirements, which include the duly accomplished SPES application form; copy of birth certificate; copy of latest income tax return of his/her parents or BIR certification that parents are exempted from tax payment; and certificate of good moral character issued by an authorized barangay official from place of residence.
“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 finally said.