How True Is This Claim: DepEd Says K to 12 Will Help Ease Unemployment

The Philippines' DepEd secretary, Bro. Armin Luistro, has made this claim. See, for example, a news article in the Philippine Star:

DepEd: K to 12 to help ease unemployment

MANILA, Philippines - High school  graduates under the K to 12 program can find employment or start their own livelihood because they will be trained in vocational and technical skills, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the additional two years in high school are intended to further hone the skills and talents of students for their chosen career path – in arts, sports, technical vocational and entrepreneurship – or tertiary education to help ease unemployment in the country.
“It is expected to give graduates better choices in the field of work or further education,” Luistro said.

On the other hand, Vencer Crisostomo wrote the following article in the Philippine Online Chronicles, stating the opposite:

K-12 myth: The promise of employment

Before it went into recess last October, Congress rushed the passage of the K-12 law into 2nd reading. Several legislators opposed the move and questioned motives behind the railroading and said there should be an evaluation of the effects of the first semester pilot of the program before passing the law effectively adding 3 years to the basic education cycle.

The Department of Education's propaganda campaign, meanwhile, regarding the K-12 program has been in full throttle these past months -- their offices churning out press release after press release -- in an attempt to get public support for a program that has already been rejected by various sectors a few years back.

As the school year opened however, the media blitz could not cover up the tragic state of the country's educational system which again reminded the public of why it is unthinkable to add more years to the education cycle in the first place.

DepEd has tried to respond by asking the public to set common sense aside, have faith on the government's goodwill and trust its claims regarding the program.

However, many of claims the DepEd is selling are myths being sold as truth. Among them, the promise of employment after graduating from the program.

Who is telling the truth? To answer this question correctly, one needs to look at data that help describe the relationship between education and employment. Along this line, I would like to share two figures. The first figure comes from a background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012 by Arvil V. Adams, "The Role of Skills Development in Overcoming Social Disadvantage":
Above figure copied from Arvil V. Adams, "The Role of Skills Development in Overcoming Social Disadvantage":

Adams writes the following explanation for the above data:
If vocational enrollments were successful in preparing youth for employment, we would expect to see an inverse relationship between the share enrolled in secondary vocational education and the ratio of youth to adult unemployment. Figure 1 shows that countries like Germany with its dual system have enrolled nearly 65 percent of students in vocational secondary schools and kept the ratio of youth to adult unemployment near one, but a country like the U.K with a similar share enrolled in vocational schools shows no apparent benefit with a ratio of youth to adult unemployment that is over three. By the same token, on the other end of the enrollment spectrum a country like Canada enrolls less than 5 percent of secondary students in vocational schools and it manages to keep the ratio at 2.5, while New Zealand with 12 percent of its students in a vocational secondary school has a ratio of 4.0.
High unemployment is often attributed to a mismatch or lack of skills. For this reason, the Philippines' DepEd is banking on providing intervention by tailoring basic education to address a perceived lack of skills. The problem is that this assumption is incorrect. Unemployment is due to so many other factors.

The second figure I would like to share comes from a research article published in the journal Metroeconomica, "Where have all the educated workers gone? Services and wage inequality in three Asian economies". This is especially relevant since one of the economies specifically examined in this study is the Philippine economy. The figure below copied from this article shows one aspect of employment that needs to be considered when studying the relationship between employment and education:

Above figure copied from "Where have all the educated workers gone? Services and wage inequality in three Asian economies"

Specific observations made by the authors of the Metroeconomica article on the Philippines are as follows:
The Philippines saw a sharply declining share of employment in low-skill manufacturing, only partially offset by a slight increase in high-skill manufacturing jobs. With pressure on the land high, the continuing exodus from agriculture (already more advanced than in India or Thailand) resulted in rapid growth in services employment. Most of this employment growth was in low-skill services.
Thus, based on the above data, Vencer Crisostomo's view is closer to the truth. Crisosotomo writes in his article:
According to the DepEd, the additional years will make our kids more "mature" and will give them "skills" needed to prepare them for jobs. This is the fantasy scenario being promised to the youth and their parents, packaging K-12 as a "bitter pill" or a sacrifice worth taking. 
The problem with this claim is that it assumes that there are plenty of jobs available; it's just that students are not "employable" enough. This premise is, well, kind of ridiculous. 
It ignores the fact that today, even college graduates have difficulty landing jobs. Unemployment has been on the rise, not because of shortage of "capable" people, but because there is no clear plan for an independent and sustainable development program which will provide jobs. The promise that the K-12 will solve the problem of unemployment is a false one.
DepEd K to 12 does not address the problem of unemployment.


  1. The k-12 basic education program is important because it helps the students to have more knowledge and and experience about the other things they haven't know.



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