MANILA—The ability to speak conversational English, more than competence in academic communication, is an asset that some companies look for in prospective hires.
According to the findings of one company that evaluates English proficiency through standardized testing, Filipino college seniors are at par with just high school students in Vietnam and Thailand.
But Monica Palomares, a marketing specialist at JobStreet, said that although the results show a need to review English proficiency in the Philippines it should not discourage Filipinos from seeking employment in companies such as call centers.
Palomares explained communication skills, as well as conversational English-speaking skills, are considered by companies in hiring employees in the country.
"May mga kumpanya na may sarili din standards sa Ingles. May mga kumpanya na kaya nilang i-tolerate 'yung mga simpleng grammatical errors kasi meron din naman silang training sa loob ng kumpanya," she said in an interview on DZMM.
Palomares added that, while JobStreet surveys also show that companies have noted a need to improve English proficiency among Filipino workers, employers are also usually willing to invest in their employees.
"It's an area to improve on but not necessarily 'yung certified sila for TOEIC or other English assessments," she said.
Camilla Vizconde, head of the University of Santo Tomas English department, however, noted that although the TOEIC is not required in the Philippines it is an important factor for Filipinos planning to work abroad.
"If you're looking for work outside of the Philippines, you have to meet the standards," she said.
Vizconde added that the Philippines is not totally lagging behind in terms of English proficiency as it remains a go-to country for studying the English language.
"Meron din naman kaming nakukuhang students from these countries (Thailand and Vietnam) and makikita mo naman na 'yung proficiency nila, dito pa sila nag-aaral sa atin ng Ingles at hindi sa kanilang bansa," she said.