Sen. Bam: Youth Unemployment a Growing Epidemic

With an estimated 700,000 fresh graduates joining the ranks of the unemployed, the number of jobless youth ranging from 15 to 24 years old in the country will breach the two million mark

Senator Bam Aquino believes that there will be no end in sight to this alarming trend unless the government launches a massive and serious campaign to address the problem.

“While we commend the government’s efforts to solve the rising number of unemployed youth in the country, it is not enough because, like an epidemic, the number keeps growing and growing every year,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

At present, Aquino said the number of unemployed youth accounts for half of the country’s 2.9 million jobless workers.

If the definition of youth under Republic Act 8044 is to be followed, the present number of jobless individuals ranging from 15 to 30 years old increased to 2.13 million.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported that there are 3.8 million job vacancies waiting to be filled, especially in industries such as services, construction, tourism, and information, technology and communications, and the business process outsourcing (BPO).

“However, many of these vacancies remain as such because of other factors such as the prevalent job and skills mismatch,” said Aquino, adding that 35.8 percent of the time, applicants are rejected due to lack of competency or skill.

Aquino said the government should take steps to address job mismatch, which stems from lack of proper education and training of applicants for a particular line of work.

“Usually, job mismatch happens when an applicant cannot comply with the technical skills needed for a position,” Aquino said.

Aside from addressing job mismatch, Aquino encouraged the government to come up with programs that will help the youth turn into entrepreneurs.

The Senate has been tackling several bills on youth entrepreneurship to help address the problem of unemployed youth.

“With the slow pace of the country’s legislative mill, it will take months or years before these measures are enacted into law. That’s why the government needs to take the initiative and start these programs right away,” Aquino said.

Aquino believes that the government’s push for inclusive growth will not take off unless the problems of youth unemployment and underemployment are not immediately addressed.

The senator believes that would-be youth entrepreneurs should be given access to financing, training, market linkages, and other means of support that will help them run and develop their own businesses.

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Sen. Bam: No Graduation Fees in Public Elementary & High Schools

Senator Bam Aquino reminded public elementary and high school officials about the existing Department of Education (DepEd) policy that prohibits collection of graduation fees.

Under DepEd Order No. 8, series of 2005, Aquino said graduation fees or any other kind of contribution is not a prerequisite for graduation.

“Any public school official who will prevent a student from graduating due to failure to pay any kind of graduation fee will be subjected to administrative sanctions,” warned Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

Aquino supported the call of DepEd Secretary Br. Armin Luistro not to collect any fees from parents for the graduation ceremonies.

Aquino said the practice of collecting graduation fees must stop because the 1987 Constitution mandates the government to provide free public education at the elementary and secondary levels.

“No less than the 1987 Constitution protects our rights to free education and we must take the necessary steps to uphold this provision,” Aquino said.

In connection with this, Aquino called on different private sectors to report to the DepEd public school officials who violate the order.

“We need to put a stop to this and one way of doing it is to get the public’s cooperation as they are our eyes and ears on the ground,” Aquino stressed.

At the same time, Aquino called on private schools to forego of lavish graduation ceremonies and instead donate to the rehabilitation of earthquake victims in Bohol and Cebu and Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas.

“Our countrymen in devastated areas still need our help,” said Aquino, who recently visited Bohol to observe the ongoing rehabilitation in earthquake-hit areas.

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Sen. Bam Urges SK Elex Postponement “With Reforms”

Following a Senate hearing of the Committee on Local Government, which tackled the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, Senator Bam Aquino called for the urgent postponement of the SK elections but clarified that he was also pushing for reforms in the system.

Members of the committee, chaired by Senator Bongbong Marcos, had reached a consensus regarding the postponement of the SK elections. The matter has yet to be tackled by the Senate as a body during a plenary session. For the postponement to take effect, a law would have to be passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The synchronized Barangay and SK elections is originally set for October 28, 2013. Ballots are set to be printed on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

“Let’s not subject our youth leaders to the currently flawed system. We owe it to them to fast-track the reforms at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said. “We agree with the postponement, but this should be done in line with SK reforms.”

A former chairperson of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Aquino in July filed Senate Bill No. 1090, otherwise known as the “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK) Bill,” It overhauls the youth representation system and aims to “[return] to the true spirit of volunteerism… taking youth participation away from the clutches of partisan politics.”

It replaces the current form of the SK with a body composed of representatives of youth organizations. It also calls for “bottom-up budgeting” and “‘end-to-end’ transparency, accountability, good governance, and community youth participation for all LBK projects.”

“It is anchored on the twin beliefs that youth organizations are a potent force in nation-building, and that the power of young Filipinos is strongest when they work with people who share their values and goals, and in an environment of teamwork and collaboration,” Aquino pointed out.

The senator also wrote in the LBK Bill: “[This represents] a departure from our current system of youth representation and governance. [The proposed measures] also represent new ways of thinking, coupled with the belief that young Filipinos will embrace these reforms for the sake of genuine change and progress.”

“Let’s Crowdsource SK Reform Bill” — Bam

In support of the proposed Crowdsourcing Act of 2013 (SBN 73), authored by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Sen. Bam Aquino has offered his own measure, the SK Reform Bill—also known as the “Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan Bill” (SBN 1090)—to be subjected to crowdsourcing.

“The nation is really in a quandary regarding the Sangguniang Kabataan—do we abolish, do we reform? How do we propose an innovative solution while addressing the many ills that have plagued the SK through the decades? Maybe it’s time to tap the wisdom of the people,” Aquino says.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines crowdsourcing as “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”

The Crowdsourcing Bill states that, “This law allows the public to participate in the legislative process wherever they are. It believes in the power of online crowdsourcing.”

Meanwhile, Aquino’s Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan (LBK) Bill proposes bold measures in reforming youth participation in the Philippines, including a “departure from individualistic, personality-based politics and the shift to youth representation to youth organizations.”

“What we’re proposing through the Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan Bill is really bold and different,” Aquino points out. “We are in the process of consulting various youth organizations, and the recommendations from crowdsourcing will help enrich the discussions. Who knows? Through crowdsourcing, we might be able to find more innovative solutions to the SK dilemma while ensuring that young Filipino continue to have an active voice in governance.”

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Sen. Bam Aquino to Address Young Changemakers

Senator Bam Aquino, the country’s youngest senator and a globally recognized youth leader and social entrepreneur, will be the opening keynote speaker at the 2013 ENACTUS Philippine National Finals, to be held on July 26, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

ENACTUS, formerly called Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), is an international organization that brings together students as well as academic and business leaders “who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to bring progress around the world.”

Once a year, the National Champion Enactus teams from around world meet at the World Cup, where they present the results of their community outreach projects to a prestigious group of international business leaders. Through a written annual report and live audio-visual presentation, teams will be evaluated based on how successful they were at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

According to ENACTUS Philippines Chairman, Jose P. Leviste, a total of 65 students representing 12 colleges and universities in the country will be participating in the competition, which will choose the Philippines’ representative to the Enactus World Cup scheduled on September 29 to October 2, 2013 in Cancun, Mexico.

The participating institutions are: Adamson University, Baliuag University, Columban College, Divine World College of Calapan, Holy Trinity College of General Santos City, Lyceum Northwestern University, Mariano Marcos State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Pangasinan State University, Sultan Kudarat State University (Isulan and Tacurong), and the University of Antique.

In a message to ENACTUS Philippines, Senator Aquino said, “I have always believed in the youth as the hope of this nation. From my time as a student leader up to my days in government and social enterprise, I have seen young Filipinos use the strength of their idealism and ideas, the power of their on-the-ground and online networks, and their passion and determination to truly make a difference in the world around them. It is, therefore, our responsibility to inculcate in our youth the ideals and virtues that they can carry with them as they steer our nation to greater heights.”

“With this belief, I laud the efforts of Enactus Philippines in shaping and molding our youth to become catalysts of change. Thanks to their programs in entrepreneurship and innovation, Enactus Philippines serves as a platform for our young and vibrant entrepreneurs to make a positive impact in their communities. We have seen in their work their ability to create programs for change and, therefore, be a collective force for economic progress.”

“May you remain as models of social responsibility, hard-work, and self-reliance as you move towards your goals of uplifting the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” the senator adds.

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