This P1.7-Billion Program Helps Train Young Filipinos for Their Perfect Job

A USAID-funded project provides high school graduates aged 18 to 24 with work-based skills training.
IMAGE YouthWorks PH

JobellynBarbasa serves as chef de cuisine, the highest position in the kitchen of Escolta at the Peninsula Manila. Barbasa joined the culilnary industry in 2012, and quickly rose through the ranks.

“When I started at Escolta Restaurant, it was very difficult because I have colleagues who are much older than I am,” said Barbasa. “I almost quit, but my education taught me that I can overcome this if I just show them that I can work.”

Barbasa said the training she received from a two-year course at Punlaan School in San Juan City buoyed her to success. Through the school’s Dual Training System (DTS)a technical and vocational education and training delivery system that combines in-school and work-based training—Barbasa trained at school and in an actual kitchen at the EDSA Shangri-La’s Paparazzi restaurant. She alternated between the two every few months.

“The Dual Training System became my edge against other interns and eventually my co-workers, since I already knew what is really happening in the kitchen,” she said.

The partnership between Punlaan and Shangri-La, helped Barbasa get hired straight out of training as a kitchen helper at Paparazzi in 2012. Now, after just seven years, she sits at the helm of a world-class restaurant while she continues to master her craft.

“Punlaan taught me to be virtuous in approaching my profession,” Barbasa said. “I still do research on how I can improve and add to my techniques. I ask my colleagues for some ideas.”

Education to Employment

Punlaan School is just one of many partner schools and corporations that helps YouthWorks PH attain its goals for young Filipinos. YouthWorks PH is a P1.7-billion workforce development project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd). 


YouthWorks PH aims to make education and training more responsive to the needs of the economy by working with the government, industry, and academia to provide opportunities to unemployed youth. The program recruits high school graduates aged 18 to 24 who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), and provides them with work-based skills training through partner schools and corporations.

USAID officials led by U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim and PBEd officers launch the first YouthWorks PH recruitment drive in Metro Manila

Photo by Tammy David | YouthWorks PH.

“As we shatter the barriers faced by the youth when searching for employment, we must give them holistic education that will empower them and make this industry better in the process,” said Karol Mark Yee, chief of party of YouthWorks PH.

YouthWorks PH aims to reach 41,000 NEET across the Greater Manila Area, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos City, and Zamboanga. Out of these, the goal is to get 4,000 trainees employed in various companies.

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“We are working very closely with the private sector to give the youth relevant work readiness and job skills training, so that they are ready to accept the challenge,” said USAID office of education director Brian Levey during a recent media briefing. “Work readiness or life skills includes how to present oneself, how to communicate with customers, and how to work effectively with colleagues.”

YouthWorks PH aims to change the narrative of traditional hiring, in which corporations tend to select candidates who have finished four years of college. JobellynBarbasa’s story is just one example of how technical vocational courses offer work readiness and life skills needed for the right job.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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