In the Philippines, Bridging Career Centers and Employers
Thursday, April 13, 2017
In collaboration with key partners, WDI last month organized a conference in the Philippines that brought together university career service professionals and industry partners to share experiences, progress and best practices for moving graduates from the classroom to the workplace.
The two-day conference in Manila attracted more than 50 people from around the island nation and was part of the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program funded by USAID and implementing partner RTI International. For the last three years, WDI has provided technical support for three Philippine university career centers as they work to strengthen relationships with business and industry. The March conference was a forum for career center directors and staff from those three partner universities and others to present what they’ve learned to their peers from across the country.
Filipinos in both academia and in private enterprise recognize the gap that exists between the skills employers expect from recent graduates and the skills universities are providing. Career centers can bridge that gap by equipping students with critical thinking, teamwork, and communications skills – qualities employers seek.
“Forging a stronger connection between industry and academe in the Philippines will result in higher employment, more productivity, and a more globally competitive workforce,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of WDI’s Education Initiative, who helped manage the conference. “This event showed there is significant interest in forming a Filipino network linking colleges and employers. Participants understood they can start it in small ways, through simple steps like meeting over coffee to flesh out more details or starting a Facebook group.”
The conference included four best practice sharing sessions, including three from universities supported by WDI and its consultants. WDI collaborated with the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP), and the University of Iloilo (UI) by matching the institutions with career center experts based in the United States. WDI and its partners worked to address the priorities identified by each career center. Activities included virtual and in-person support as well as other learning activities over the course of the three-year engagement.
Leaders from the universities presented how they have made significant progress to meet their goals over the past three years and have begun to share lessons learned with other universities as well. In their presentation, representatives from TIP focused on three key areas: providing employment readiness, which involves both preparing students and incorporating feedback from businesses; involving the greater campus community in supporting the career services center; and, focusing on students’ long-term career success.
“Students must be prepared inside and outside the classroom,” said TIP President Elizabeth Quirino-Lahoz. “We need to eliminate the gap between industry expectations and the kind of students schools produce.”
Frank Alejandrino, director of Career Services Director at TIP, mentioned that to-date, 30 universities throughout the Philippines have visited the TIP career center to learn from their practices. “Our doors are open,” he said.
Lucila Bance, head of Career Services at UST, presented the school’s new program: GUTS – Gear Up Tools for Success – a series of career workshops with themes targeting career readiness. Bance also highlighted the fact that the UST modules are delivered to students by partner companies who provide career-related seminars on a variety of subjects including networking and professionalism.
Following a recommendation by WDI consultants, representatives from UI said they have started inviting industry experts to teach for a semester and have seen strong results.
Several participants inquired about building a new professional association in the Philippines. WDI Consultant Andrew Ceperley introduced the idea of a network that would link academia and industry, similar to the U.S.-based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Participants discussed how such a network might take shape in the Philippines and the industry representatives at the forum contributed to the discussion by highlighting what services and competencies they value in a career center.
Farouk Dey, WDI consultant and head of Career Services at Stanford University, led a session that explored several trends for career services. Today’s career services field is all about “connections and community,” he said. Dey suggested career services professionals engage alumni as well as employers, and to get out of the office to better engage with students around the campus community.
Several participants came away inspired and ready to take action at their universities.
“We don’t have funds, but having these ideas will allow me to make small steps. I’m feeling pumped up and ready to make recommendations to my management,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Philippine Women’s University.
El Anelio Barnachea, of De La Salle – College of St. Benilde, added: “This conference was an opportunity for me to understand the industry and academic linkages. Students have problems in terms of career decisions. Now I have a wider perspective on how to match students’ needs with industry demands. It was also important that industry was at this conference so we could hear what kind of competencies they need.”
Please click here to learn more about WDI’s work through the STRIDE program.