Employers back more workplace hours for senior high students

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LONGER exposure to work conditions will ensure the employability of senior high school students, particularly those in Technical-Vocational Education (TVE), a technical school educator said.

Fr. Pierre Tritz Institute-ERDA Tech Senior High School (ERDA Tech) Principal Peter Marc D. Magsalin said employers are backing longer work “immersion” for senior high school students beyond the minimum 80 hours stipulated by the Department of Education (DepEd). He said the need is particularly critical for students in the TVE strand.

“The concern arose from the business sector because for them, the longer students are exposed to training the better are the chances of them developing their competencies and skills,” he told BusinessWorld last week.

He added: “Longer work immersion (means) better employability.”

In ERDA Tech, work immersion for senior high school students is 640 hours over five months. Designing this into their school calendar has proved to be challenging but Mr. Magsalin said that the school is trying to find ways to accommodate students’ schedules.

“We have partnerships with industry to offer not just work immersion but also continuity of higher TechVoc training,” he said.

Mr. Magsalin added that the around 30% of the school’s graduates work after leaving school with the rest pursuing higher education. A number of its Grade 12 students are also certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) certified before they graduate.

Mr. Magsalin also highlighted the importance of simulating work conditions for TVE students at the school level. Lab and workshop subjects for the TVE students are typically all-day sessions as opposed to two hours for most schools.

“The idea is to simulate the real world. If they have to stand for seven to eight hours, they have to learn that first. What we have learned running technical programs in shops using two-hour, three-hour schemes a day is that after two or three hours, they fall asleep or lose motivation. Companies give us that feedback. We thought that everything that will be done at work beginning this school year has to be simulated. After the first year, the feedback is outstanding,” Mr. Magsalin said.

Reporters were toured ERDA Tech’s facilities, which are equipped for automotive servicing; electrical installation and maintenance; machining; and the food trade. The school’s equipment is largely funded by corporate or individual sponsors.

The school is also one of two nationwide that has its own AutoCAD lab for its high school students. AutoCAD is a tool used in the computer-aided design process.

Mr. Magsalin said TVE is a viable alternative to university training. “Because we’re a technical vocational institution, we need to provide that exposure,” he added. — Gillian M. Cortez