The Senate Committee on Basic Education chaired by Gatchalian conducted a hearing on Senate Bill No. 2022, or the “Batang Magaling” Act, which seeks to address the mismatch between the skills of K to 12 graduates and the demands of the labor market.
During the hearing, Gatchalian asked the opinion of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on whether member-companies hire SHS graduates of the TVL track. The senator emphasized that they underwent training for specific vocational jobs and the work immersion program that provided SHS graduates the opportunity to become familiar with the workplace and to apply their competencies in various work environments.
ECOP Legal Services Manager Robert Maronilla said employers continue to prefer employing college graduates over SHS graduates which is the usual case except when SHS graduates have secured a certification of a specialization. Maronilla also suggested SHS students taking the TVL track should be more focused on “hard-to-fill-in” jobs, such as those in the agriculture and automotive sectors. To encourage cooperation of industry partners, the Batang Magaling Act seeks to include work immersion programs in Section 34 of Republic Act No. 11534, otherwise known as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act” (CREATE), which can boost the employability of SHS graduates.
The said provision in CREATE allows an additional deduction from the taxable income of one-half of the value of labor training expenses incurred for skills development of enterprise-based trainees enrolled in public senior high schools, public higher education institutions or public technical and vocational institutions. “The intention is to give incentives as a form of deductible. So, if you accept senior high school students in your company as part of their work immersion program, that work immersion program can be used as a deductible,” Gatchalian said.
“The law’s provision intends to encourage private corporations to train senior high school students because they can later use the cost of the training as a deductible,” he added. Gatchalian also asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for inputs on whether private entities find it difficult to comply with the requirements of the said provision. “In my consultations, it turned out that it’s very difficult to convince corporations to take in senior high school students. So, we want to understand what the requirements are. Because if the requirements are difficult, that’s going to be useless,” Gatchalian ended.