THE Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a government think tank, said the K-to-12 Program boosts students’ skills and knowledge in their chosen fields, but students outside the technical track expressed a need for further education to make them more hireable.

In a statement Thursday, PIDS said one of its studies, “Senior High School and the Labor Market: Perspectives of Grade 12 Students and Human Resource Officers,” Grade 12 students believe that K-to-12 “will help them firm up their choices and plans for their college education and future careers, as well as develop their technical and soft skills.”

The study was conducted by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Aniceto C. Orbeta, Jr., Consultant Marites B. Lagarto, Senior Research Specialist Ma. Kristina Ortiz, Supervising Research Specialist Danica Aica P. Ortiz, and Research Analyst Maropsil V. Potestad. Participants in the study were selected students from the first batch of Grade 12 students from 18 schools.

The study interviewed the Grade 12 students and found that “the students expressed appreciation for the additional two years (which) provides them the opportunity to assess what courses to take up in college, help improve their character/attitude and equip them with additional knowledge and skills for fields they want to specialize in.”

However, the students also said that despite the additional preparation under K-to-12, students still feel that they are not ready to enter the workforce. PIDS said that most students interviewed in the study believe “(T)hey would still need to go to college because the training in SHS was not meant to make them more employable, unlike in the case of the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood students.”

Students also said they still need to pursue a college degree to make them more employable by larger companies.

“Most of the students were firm about their plans to pursue higher education because of the perception that college degree (provides) better employment opportunities and salaries,” the researchers said.

The researchers also surveyed 33 employers and establishments and found that companies are reluctant to hire SHS graduates and can only offer them entry-level positions at best.

“There is reluctance among most of the respondent firms to hire SHS graduates. While most of them said they are willing to hire, they gave preconditions for hiring such as required competencies and specialized skills, longer and more in-depth work immersion, and giving only low positions in their company,” the researchers said.

The PIDS recommended that the curriculum of the K-to-12 program to be reviewed and updated with an eye on relevance to jobs and work retention. — Gillian M. Cortez