Thursday, June 26, 2014
Culture Nurture: E is for Education, Entrepreneurship, Employment, and Economy By: James U. Sy Jr.
Why go to college? An often asked question in college and university interviews that doesn’t seem to be answered with enough deep thought to the matter. The usual answers that one gets include to gain more knowledge, to graduate from college, and to have a good job, which by themselves are correct…partially correct actually. Partially correct because after one gains more knowledge then what? After one graduates from college then what? After landing a good job then what? Simply put the answers are very myopic, short term in nature, and are not the ultimate goal, although they contribute to the final objective. I tell my students that one’s mission in going to college is, take good note of this, to improve one’s quality of life and ultimately be happy in life. Having knowledge, having graduated, and having a job or a business are the first steps. If one is myopic, he can just focus his sights on these yet he may never attain real fulfillment and happiness in life since this ultimate goal is not within his focus. On the other hand, if one has improving the quality of life and being happy as the ultimate goal then having knowledge, having graduated, and having a good job or business are but natural preparatory steps. This way of thinking is outside the box, a different paradigm shift if you will. Many students would go to school just to hang out, drink, smoke, do drugs, go to billiard halls or disco houses, or even impregnate or be impregnated. Any of these activities that do not contribute to the fulfillment of one’s dreams have no place in a student’s focus in going to school. If a student has this mindset then he can never go down the wrong path. The importance of education can not be pointed out enough. The title of this article may well best describe the revolving interaction between education, entrepreneurship, employment, and the economy. There is a direct link between education and employment. Education prepares a citizen for employment, whether with an institution or by one’s self (entrepreneurship). An analogy I often give my students is that at one point in life, we may be required to remove a screw. Without the right tool we won’t be able to do the job. It is here where the education system comes in, by providing the screwdriver to get the job done. Generally, people with no or less education end up in labor-intensive employment - porters, stevedores, construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, etc. While these jobs are honorable, the laborer has a decreasing capability to earn as he grows older and become weaker physically. Younger applicants can easily sidetrack them in the race for bringing home the bacon. However, a job, say in the office, while still stressful, would tend to put more strain on the mind rather than on the physical, and with better pay. Office workers will have relatively fewer job-related physical mishaps or injuries than those in the labor-intensive industries. Improving quality of life therefore does not only involve earning money for the sake of having money but being able to use one’s earnings to make life more comfortable and enjoyable. This includes being able to attend to the medical needs of one’s parents or family, being able to eat what one wants to eat, and being able to go where one wants to have a vacation among other things. Traditionally, the orientation of graduates is towards salaried employment. In more recent times, this has changed as there is a growing interest in entrepreneurship in our country. Today, entrepreneurship is included in the curricula of most universities and colleges. Consider the following figures by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). There were 820,255 business enterprises operating in the Philippines in 2011 with 99.6% (816,759) of these being micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) (those with up to P3 million, P3-15 million, and P15-100 million capitalization respectively); The large enterprises only comprised 0.4% (3,496). 91.0% (743,250) of these MSMEs were micro enterprises; 8.6% (70,222) were small enterprises and 0.4% (3,287) was medium enterprises. In Region 6 (Western Visayas) there were 47,166 MSMEs in that year. MSMEs generated 3,872,406 jobs in 2011, or 61.0% of the total jobs generated by all types of business establishments that year; the large enterprises contributed 2,473,336 jobs. Again, micro enterprises comprise the bulk of this job generation at 45.9% (1,778,353 jobs). 206,108 jobs were generated for Region 6 (Western Visayas) that year. Thus, entrepreneurship helps improve the economy among others through 1) employment, 2) income generation of employees and businesses (both suppliers and buyers), 3) improvement of the quality of life, 4) more equitable distribution of wealth, and 5) strengthening of the government through taxes, licensing and permits, and development of buildings and other structures. In Bacolod City, the capital of the province of Negros Occidental, the local government under Hon. Mayor Monico O. Puentevella continues to operate and support the Bacolod City College (BCC), which had produced thousands of graduates within its 14 years of existence. This year BCC produced 897 graduates in its 5 programs. During the college’s 14th Commencement Exercises last April 3, 2014 at the BAYS Center, Mayor Puentevella stressed the college’s continued quest for excellence in education by having experts from the academic field in the board of trustees. He also thanked the parents for sacrificing to have their children finish college. BCC is one of only two public schools in Bacolod offering college education (the other is the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College) As graduates join the real world of employment and entrepreneurship and as high school graduates enter the gates of colleges and universities this coming June, hopefully they will realize that education, employment, entrepreneurship, and the economy are all interrelated pieces of a larger puzzle which we all call life.