MANILA - The government must offer more science-based programs and "upskilling" opportunities to students and fresh graduates to fill in the pandemic-driven gaps in the education and labor sectors, presidential hopefuls said Saturday.
Presidential candidate Senator Ping Lacson said Saturday that Alert Level 1 should be implemented across the country, while also implementing work-from-home set-ups.
"Dapat ilagay na ang buong bansa sa Alert level 1 nang sa ganoon na makabalik sa trabaho ang mga mamamayan," Lacson said.
(We should put the whole country under Alert Level 1 so all employees can go back to work.)
Internet connection must also be improved, to meet the digitization of the economy, Lacson said.
Former defense secretary Norberto Gonzalez said that sub-employment can be made available so employers can meet fresh-graduates' performance and skillsets halfway.
"We have to be prepared na medyo magtatagal bago maging normal ang performance ng manggagagwa, lalo ang graduates," Gonzalez said.
(We have to be preapred that it will take a while before employees' performance are back to normal, especially fresh graduates.)
"Pagpapasensyahan yan, at tuturuan nang husto kung hindi pa masyadong sanay sa trabaho," he added.
(Patiently teach them while they are not used to working yet.)
Gonzalez was against the modernization of the agricultural sector, saying upgrading will take some time, and those increasing employment in the sector should be prioritized.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on the other hand said he will invest in prioritizing agriculture jobs by including it in the STEM curriculum, making it STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics.
"Para magkaroon tayo ng food security dahil itong pandemya na ito tinuruan an tayo na maging maingat at mag-produce ng sarili nating pagkain at 'wag umasa sa imported food products," Domagoso said, warning against the uncertainty of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and its effect on the supply chain of imported goods.
(We learned from this pandemic that we need to have food security and not rely on imports.)
Businessman Faisal Mangondato echoed the need to support agricultural industries, but offered the solution of production subsidies to help make untended land productive with crops and farms.
Senator Manny Pacquiao and labor leader Ka Leody De Guzman said Technical Education And Skills Development Authority schools should be strengthened to upskill more Filipinos to match their desired career path and job choice.
Vice President Leni Robredo echoed this, saying there is "a disconnect" between curricula and industries.
"Maraming trabaho sa BPO pero walang nagku-qualify, 'yung maritime maraming opportunity pero 'yung skills kulang. 'Yung STEM dapat may regional excellence centers, para nasu-suit sa lugar 'yung tamang kailangan [skill] ng lugar," she explained.
(There are many employment opportunities in BPO and the maritime industries, but those applying for jobs lack skills. There must be regional STEM excellence centers so skills learned are suited to the opportunities of the area.)
De Guzman emphasized his advocacy against contractualization, saying that employees should become regular after four months at work.
"Sa ganoon mahalin nung ating mga manggagawa ‘yung kanilang trabaho kung sila’y regular at tinuturing na partner doon sa kanilang kompanyang pinapasukan," he said.
(Employees will love their work because they are treated as partners of their companies.)
Business Ernesto Abella chose to focus on primary and secondary education, to ensure that students have the mastery of reading, writing, and mathematics to fill the learning gap created by 2 years of distance and remote learning set-ups.
Robredo on the other hand said that the country has had an education problem even before the pandemic, which can be addressed by increasing the budget for the education sector from a meager 3 percent to the UNESCO recommendation of 6 percent.
"Kailangan mag-declare na tayo ng education crisis para matutukan natin ito," Robredo said.
(We need to declare an education crisis so we can focus on it.)
Teachers should be given more competitive salaries, and should be focused on instruction instead of administrative duties, Robredo said.
Lawyer and doctor Jose Montemayor Jr. chose to highlight the mandate for vaccination, and claimed it caused demotivation and low morale among employees.
Instead, employees should be given more incentives and better salaries to increase motivation among the workforce, he said.
The candidates faced off at the Commission on Elections presidential debate titled "PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point" on Saturday.
Former Senator Bongbong Marcos did not attend, and instead opted to visit his supporters in Marikina on the same day of the debate.
WATCH THE LIVESTREAM HERE: