FEATURE: Transforming university Career Centers to shape a future-ready Filipino workforce 

Developing university Career Centers is one of the initiatives of the USAID Science, Technology, Research and  Innovation for Development (STRIDE)1 program in the Philippines. This aims to strengthen the impact of  universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs) in molding Filipino talent who are equipped with the  knowledge and competencies required by a rising innovation-centered employment market.  

A 2012 World Bank report on the Asian region noted that HEIs “contribute very little to technology  adaptation and upgrading in firms” and that firms have “very limited collaboration with universities and very  few form university-industry links”. Locally, the growth of S&T-heavy industries has brought to the fore the  issue of the increasing ‘skills gap’ in the local labor market; this mismatch between the skills acquired by young  Filipinos through their college education and the expectations from their prospective employers hampers their  potential for employment and career advancement. 

STRIDE, in partnership with U.S. career center experts from Florida State University (FSU) and the William Davidson Institute (WDI) at the University of Michigan, supports Philippine universities in addressing these challenges by transforming the role of career centers from the traditional counseling and advising functions, into a holistic strategy that permeates into several areas of university operations and establishes meaningful connections between student learning outcomes and industry needs.  

Such transformation involves necessary shifts in operational strategies: a) Integrating career education into the academic curriculum and engaging  faculty members to help prepare students for the world of work; b) Elevating career education in the organizational structure of the university; c) Refocusing career services staff skills from counseling and advising to community development, advocacy and establishing connections between students, alumni and employers; and d) Leveraging technology to scale up the engagement of stakeholders in high-impact programs that delivers resources and forms networks to larger  numbers of students, employers and alumni.

The mentorship involved in-person sessions between Philippine university officials and U.S. experts from FSU  and WDI, complemented by remote consultations where the U.S. experts monitor progress and provide  guidance on content and strategies for career services. STRIDE also organized a study tour for select career  center staff to visit career centers in US universities and attend the annual meeting of the National Association  of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  

From 2014 to 2018, Career Centers have been upgraded in eight universities all over the country: two in the  National Capital Region (Technological Institute of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas); two in Luzon  (Western Philippines University and Palawan State University); one in Visayas (University of Iloilo); and three in  Mindanao (University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, Ateneo de Davao University, and the  University of Southeastern Philippines). At present, STRIDE continues to strengthen more university Career  Centers, linking faculty and graduates to innovative opportunities in the country’s rapidly growing economy. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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