Written by Diane Lim
Photos taken by Lawrence Agustin
The Ateneo Learning and Teaching Excellence Center (ALTEC) successfully trained 21 youth-serving organizations with a total of 61 youth development workers in Zamboanga del Norte, Northern Samar, and Zamboanga City by Nurturing Excellence in Training Young People through Learning to Earning Pathways (LEaP) of the SUGPAT Program.
Despite the high demand for competent and job-ready individuals in the local job market, issues such as job-skills mismatch, unemployment, and underemployment remain prevalent. According to the June 2022 Labor Force Survey (LFS), approximately 854,000 individuals, out of nearly 3 million unemployed Filipinos, are aged 15 to 24. This translates to a youth unemployment rate of 11.8 percent.
In the rapidly evolving and competitive work environment, the ability to adapt is crucial for employees. Unfortunately, employers have observed that recent graduates often lack the necessary employability skills. In response to these challenges, LEaP is undertaking the NExT LEaP to help address these issues.
Nurturing Excellence in Training Young People through LEaP or NExT LEaP is a three-day capacity-building fellowship that aims to empower youth-serving organizations to effectively deliver youth-friendly and age-appropriate employability skills training. This initiative not only equips these organizations with the tools they need but also nurtures a culture of excellence in training, ensuring that the young people they work with are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. It is one of the components of LEaP! or Learning to Earning Pathways. The training sessions are tailored to the needs of the participating organizations, providing them with actionable insights and strategies.
Avelino Mejia Jr, UNICEF Philippines, expresses his gratitude to the youth-serving organizations for their active participation in the NExT LEaP.
“Through participation in this program, young people will have more opportunities to learn, to educate themselves. This is an added opportunity for learning outside of the school environment and the hope is that they get to acquire skills that are needed for employment that employers are looking for [in] their applicants,” said Avelino Mejia, Jr., Adolescent Skills Development Programme Coordinator of UNICEF Philippines.
The NExT LEaP is the first in-person training that the SUGPAT Program of ALTEC implemented right after the restrictions due to COVID-19 loosened up.
“It’s so good to be back in the presence of our young people. It’s so good to have an exchange of ideas with them, and so good to see that they, too, are very excited to implement their ideas in their communities. We can’t wait to see our organizations grow in this fellowship in NExT LEaP,” expressed ALTEC Director, Rogin Eribal.
The first leg of the training was conducted in the Top Plaza Hotel in Zamboanga del Norte on July 19 – 21, 2023. It was facilitated by NExT LEaP training designer, Kiko Miranda.
“Doing development work is basically anchored on theories and there are different developmental frameworks, planning tools, as well as training designs or strategies that would guide us to create more effective programs for the youth,” is one of the highlights shared by Marcielle Marie Quimiguing, Director of Internal Affairs of Bugsay.
Lou Claudette Recososa, President of Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) said the NExT LEaP is the “backbone or starting line” of their organization that will help them come up with their strategic plan to engage with their communities.
Continuing its journey, the second leg of the training was conducted in Northern Samar, held at the Mijares Hotel in Dalakit, Catarman on July 25 – 27, 2023. The facilitators of this leg were ALTEC’s very own SUGPAT Program Officer, Bam Immid, and Director, Rogin Eribal. They brought their expertise to the table, further enriching the experience for the participating youth-serving organizations.
According to Arvin Espinosa, Business Manager, PYAP-Northern Samar, what makes NExT LEaP significant is it helps them to expand their knowledge and understanding of their own organization and the young people they work with.
For the last leg of the training, the SUGPAT team returned to its home base in Zamboanga City. The training was conducted in Ateneo de Zamboanga University Lantaka Campus on August 2 – 4, 2023. The last leg was facilitated by Kiko Miranda, reiterating the program’s commitment to excellence and growth.
In this last leg, the participating youth-serving organizations of Zamboanga City were fortunate enough to learn more about the Youth Agency Marketplace (YOMA) and SAP Educate to Employ (E2E) firsthand from UNICEF Global’s Programme Manager Warwick Vlantis and SAP’s Global CSR Director Eugene Ho respectively.
Ferndale International School College Instructor, Shem Cimafranca, shared that she is so grateful to be a part of the NExT LEaP and she “can’t wait to apply it when I go back to my organization.”
What comes after taking the NExT LEaP? The youth development workers will transfer their learnings to their respective youth-serving organizations. Then they will submit their project proposals on employability skills training, undergo feedback sessions, and then implement these projects in their respective communities in the latter half of 2023.
For the newly appointed Provincial Youth Development Officer (PYDO) of Northern Samar, Anne Kirsten Tobes, the significance of NExT LEaP is that she can apply what she learned from the training to her work as the PYDO of Northern Samar.
The participating youth-serving organization conveyed their excitement for the fellowship and the opportunity to implement their own employability skills training in the coming months.
The youth-serving organizations that are part of the NExT LEaP are the following:
- 4H Club of Northern Samar
- Public Employment Service Office*(PESO) – Catarman, Northern Samar
- Provincial Federation of Pag-Asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) Officers in Northern Samar
- Provincial Youth Development Office (PYDO) – Northern Samar
- San Roque Active Youth Volunteer Organization
- San Roque Municipal Youth Development Council
- Sinag ng Hilaga
- Community Association of Youth in Action (CAYA)
- Ferndale Colleges Zamboanga Peninsula Inc.
- Google Developer Students Club Blue Eagle
- Jovenes Allianza De Zamboanga (JADZ)
- Junior Jaycees Zamboanga (JJZ)
- Rotaract Club of Metro Zamboanga
- Union of Nation-builders and Innovators for Democracy – Organization (UNIDO)
Zamboanga del Norte
- I Can – Zamboanga del Norte
- Kabtaan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) of Zamboanga del Norte
- Local Youth Development Office (LYDO) Dipolog City
- PYAP – Mutia*
- Red Cross Youth Zamboanga del Norte Chapter
- PYAP – Sirawai
*Withdrew from the fellowship due to office operations being on hold due to unforeseen circumstances out of their control.