The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) in cooperation with the University Guidance Center had a pre-employment orientation that targeted the grantees of the Expanded Students Grants-In-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) on April 4, 2017 at the Main Hall of the Center for Teaching Excellence. In attendance were OSA Dean Dr. Nancy S. Surmieda, University Guidance Counselor Mrs. Geraldine Joy B. Espinosa, and ESGP-PA Coordinator Ms. Lariza Aklemia Z. Albacete.

Inspired by the theme Empowering ESGP-PA Student Grantees: Preparing for a World of Work, Dr. Nancy Surmieda expressed her joy upon seeing the attendees that morning. Addressing the young crowd, she said, “I am pleased to see you here because it means that you are eager to be employed and be a part of the Filipino work force. You should know that the present job market is very competitive that is why West Visayas State University and the OSA are here to guide you by teaching you the right attitude and the necessary skills for you to land your first job.”

ESGP-PA is a government scholarship that funds students to finish a college degree. The program has the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) partnering with State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) nationwide. The ESGP-PA program targets low-income families who are identified by the DSWD and are likewise beneficiaries of 4Ps. “Usually a municipal link will recommend students who are enrolled in WVSU to the DSWD RO 6 Office. Then they will forward the list of potential grantees to me,” explains Ms. Albacete. “I will then identify those who are qualified basing on their grades, their socio economic status, as well as their willingness to take on a CHED-priority course. Once everything is ironed out, I will be submitting the final list of student-grantees to DSWD, CHED, and the Department of Budget and Management for the approval of their stipend and other financial support.

The orientation invited Regional Labor and Employment Officer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 6 Ma. Lucy U. Muralla who spoke on work ethics and the culture of productive and decent work. She also enlightened the crowd with regards to the present-day labor market information. “In the Philippines, despite the huge employment projects, there are mismatches between the available skills and the labor market demands which in turn, hampers employment growth. Sadly, the youth composes almost half of the unemployed population”. She goes on to explain that there are only a few graduates who are venturing into industries that are currently in-demand. “Right now priority industries are construction, ICT and ICT services, real estate development, automotive and land transportation, education, agriculture and fisheries, renewable energy, health and wellness, and manufacturing. I hope the next generation of graduates will be open and interested in venturing into these fields for these are the ones who are looking for many immediate workers”.

Maria Heroina P. Muyco who is the Division Manager of the LifeBank Head Office and president of HRNet Iloilo spoke on job hunting tips and guidelines. “More than anything, attitude is what matters. The skills and knowledge that you learned from the classroom are not enough once you apply for a job. Be honest, be candid, and be proud of your background and your achievements without sounding arrogant”. She also shared that LifeBank has many branches all over the province of Iloilo, which makes job hunting convenient for applicants who hail outside of the city.

The afternoon featured socialization among grantees who openly shared their personal experiences and struggles from being ESGP-PA scholars, to becoming WVSU graduates, and their present state of being excited job hunters.

Mrs. Espinosa, the WVSU Guidance Counselor and GCNet President shared that this is the first time that the center has conducted this kind of seminar. “I want to reach out to all graduating students however I don’t have access to all of them so I invited interest groups and school organizations so that we can gradually expand the training. I started with ESGP-PA because I know that this is the group that has conquered life’s many trials. More than anything, they need their university to guide them one last time before they can finally be on their own”.