Home quarantine productivity for youth made possible by USAID, PBEd project

Figure 1 Jenny Sarming, FTW trainee from Zamboanga City

Jenny Sarming, 18, from Guiwan, Zamboanga City is a young woman who recently moved out of her home. Affected by unfortunate circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenny was feeling hopeless and didn’t know what to do. She was dealing with traumas, her mental health was deteriorating, and she was losing a lot of weight.

“Honestly, I went through something tough since the pandemic began and I had to leave home, so now, I’m living alone and I’m still trying to recover,” she said.

Meanwhile, Aishima Venezuela or Shim, 29, from Carmona, Cavite is a mother of three children. Her family went through a financial crisis in the first two months of the lockdown because her parents’ business had to close. Although they were able to bounce back after a while, she had to find ways to sustain her family, so she explored baking sweets and started online selling.

“Because my kids like sweets, I decided to make something for them, and I enjoyed it. Eventually, it opened an opportunity for business,” she shared.

The pandemic undoubtedly negatively impacted people’s jobs and lives, as studies showed that longer durations of quarantine were associated with poorer mental health and lower productivity.

“In a pandemic, our human capital is at greatest risk. Not only does the virus affect people’s health, but the lockdown and social distancing also makes them lose their jobs and see their incomes fall,” said Bart van Ark, executive vice president and global chief economist of the global business group The Conference Board. “It will affect the schooling and training of the (future) workforce, and it can put undue pressure on the healthcare system to not only deal with the virus itself but also with other health issues,” he added.

For Jenny and Shim, staying productive during quarantine was a challenge, but they were able to remain focused on their goal especially when they found out about the Flexible Training for Work (FTW) under YouthWorks PH, the private-sector driven youth employability project of the United States Agency for International Development and Philippine Business for Education.

FTW is a skills training program to cater to the increasing number of youth NEET in the country. The project’s main mode of teaching, which is online, was formulated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the program, FTW trainees attend a synchronous session with their mentors to learn about communication, interpersonal and professional skills. They are given home tasks every after sessions that they accomplish on their own and submit on a specific date. Likewise, they are also honed for employability skills through the Skills to Succeed Academy of Accenture, where they learn about resume writing and job interview skills. Lastly, they undergo technical learning through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s Online Program, where they learn technical skills on a number of courses.

Jenny and Shim credit their home quarantine productivity to to FTW, where they discovered a way to make good use of their free time.

“I am really grateful for the program, especially that they have entrusted us with devices that we can use for this training. With everything that happened to me, YouthWorks PH helped me with productive tasks that helps me to recover mentally, emotionally, and physically,” said Jenny.

During the recruitment process, trainees may request for a device if they do not have one to use for the training. If approved, they will be issued a device together with a training kit which the trainee can later own if he or she finishes the whole program, including the on-the-job training.

Figure 2 Shim Venezuela, FTW trainee from Cavite

“FTW has been a huge help to me and to the other young people in this program. The program gets us ready for what awaits us in the world of work. Personally, I have been able to develop my problem solving and interpersonal skills. It gave me practical tips on how to succeed in employment, as well as how to interact with people well,” Shim shared.

These trainees are only a few of the youth NEET who are fervently hoping for a brighter future. Through FTW, they claim to be more productive, enthusiastic, and ready for employment.

By training thousands of youth who are not in education, employment or training, USAID and Philippine Business for Education, through YouthWorks PH, is helping young people of our country lead better lives and bounce back from the pandemic more skilled and ready for gainful employment.

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