Compared to basic education, the stakes are much higher in college education, both at the household and the societal level.
On a personal or household level, the decision to get a college degree is based on expectations of better opportunities to build a career and earn a comfortable living, for the self and the family. At the societal level, a highly educated workforce yields greater productivity, as well as
faster social mobility and economic growth. However, it takes a considerable length of time for the Filipino youth to gain employment after schooling and, hence, make meaningful social and economic contributions. Between 2006 and 2020, more than one million Filipinos between 15 and 24 years old are annually classified as unemployed – comprising 50% of the country’s total unemployment.
The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) argues the problem of youth unemployment is driven by two factors: first, school-to-work transition leads to months or years of missed opportunities. The second, and what appears to be a bigger factor, is the job-skills mismatch, due to a significant gap between the course offerings of academic institutions and the needs of the labor market.
To address the latter, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) developed a labor market information (LMI) system which aims to provide “timely, relevant, and accurate signals on the current labor market, such as in-demand jobs and skills shortages.
But what factors significantly influence students’ determination and optimism that they can finish College and build careers that provide for their families and contribute to the country’s progress as a whole?
As its first externally-funded research project on Career Guidance and School- to-Work transition, the FEU Public Policy Center (FPPC) through the support of the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) embarked on a study that analyzed the determining factors that influence career optimism of Gen-Z Filipino college students from various schools.
Career optimism is defined as “a disposition to expect the best possible outcome, or to emphasize the most positive aspects, of one’s future career development and comfort in performing career planning tasks” (Rottinghaus et al., 2005: 11).