Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday hailed the passage of Senate Bill No. 1629 or the “First-time Jobseekers Assistance Act" on third and final reading with 18 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and zero abstention.
The measure exempts fresh graduates and out-of-school youth from paying government fees and charges on documents needed for their job application.
Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, said the immediate passage of the bill into law would greatly ease the financial burden of first-time jobseekers in acquiring government documents they need for their job application.
“We welcome the huge support of our colleagues in prioritizing this significant measure that will benefit our fresh graduates and out-of-school youth who usually face difficulties as they undergo school-to-work transition,” said Villanueva, author and sponsor of the measure.
“It is a great service to the nation, that we provide ways and means for the younger generations’ ease of entrance into the country’s labor force as valuable human resources and productive citizens,” the senator added.
Villanueva further urged the House of Representatives to pass a similar measure that “will enable our fresh graduates to find jobs immediately upon completing schooling, without the burden of paying what for them is a substantial amount for employment requirements, while still financially dependent.”
First-time jobseekers include fresh graduates, students who have taken leaves of absence and out-of-school youth.
The measure, which the senator dubbed as “Kontra-Tambay” bill, aims to address the uncertainty being faced by fresh graduates on their school-to-work transition, and to shoulder the cost of fees and charges in acquiring government documents.
As proof that they are first time jobseekers, he said the applicants would be required to submit a duly sworn affidavit stating that he is either a new graduate, an early school leaver, a student taking a leave of absence, he or she is working part-time, or he or she is not engaged in education or employment .
Villanueva said the proposed exemption of government fees can only be availed of only once by first time job seekers.
In a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank entitled, “Are Filipino Youth Off to a Good Start?”, the school-to-work transition for many young Filipinos is associated with change, waiting, and uncertainty.
Villanueva shared that it usually takes a high school leaver up to 3 years to find a first job while it takes a college graduate 1 year to find a first job. The ADB study also said that regulations and restrictions on employment arrangements is one of the strong factors influencing their school-to-work transition.
Some of the pre-employment documents a fresh graduate needs include: (1) Police Clearance Certificate; (2) NBI Clearance (3) Barangay Clearance; (4) Medical Certificate; (5) Birth and/or Marriage Certificate; (6) Tax Identification Number; and (7) Other documentary requirements issued by the government that may be required by employers for first-time jobseekers.
Villanueva noted that fees and charges for the said documents may cost up to P2,000. This does not include other expenses for food, fare, printing, and appropriate clothing for job interviews.
The bill, if passed into law, would greatly benefit around 600,000 fresh graduates annually.
“This legislation will bring far greater benefit to our country and economy. Fresh, eager, skilled, technologically updated, optimistic, and driven younger human resources will be injected into the bloodstream that is our economy. It will indeed be a boost in the country’s economic life and energy,” Villanueva said.