After the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 12 March 2020, the Philippines, especially Luzon (including its associated islands) was placed on a lockdown to delay and contain infection and spread. Modified forms of the Enhanced community Quarantine (ECQ) have been implemented since June, resuming some essential economic activities while rules are being prepared for a new normal.
The implementation activities of the JobStart Philippines (a youth employment facilitation program of the Department of Labor and Employment), were among those affected by the lockdown. Safety precautions, which included restrictions on mobility, physical contact, and gatherings, caused suspension of beneficiary registration and the conduct of its first component – life skills training (LST). LST aims to develop and enhance the youths’ values, behaviors, attitudes, and mindset towards successful entry and stay in employment or income-earning opportunities.
The emerging new normal required a re-thinking of JobStart’s LST delivery and implementation. The standard classroom/community implementation approach observed since its inception, will not be feasible given physical distancing, public movement, transportation restrictions, and recommended work from home delivery.
In response to this, the DOLE, through the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Canada, and Plan International have begun transforming most JobStart processes in digital format, including the LST.
The cooperation involves the conversion of the JobStart LST into an online learning program while incorporating relevant modules found in Plan International’s life skills course (e.g. digital literacy, mental health, occupational safety and health, safe migration, and climate change) that shall equip youth beneficiaries with 21st-century skills and new normal coping skills. Furthermore, the National Wages and Productivity Commission’s (NWPC) training module entitled “Work Ethics of a Productive Worker”, will also be integrated into the JobStart Online LST.
The development of the online modules is now on its Authoring Phase wherein the modules are being converted into a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) file. After the testing and refining of the material, the launching of the JobStart Online LST will be conducted in November 2020.