THE Department of Labor and Employment in Davao Region (DOLE XI) is included among the regions chosen for the first impact evaluation of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) in order to know more about the program’s positive outcome and for its further improvement.

This was done under the request of DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldos aiming to give due recognition to the program which has been implemented by the department for more than 20 years now serving more than 150,000 students annually with its P650 million budget.

SPES provides employments during school breaks to secondary and tertiary students, helps in increasing school retention, improves student’s employability, and assists students in transitioning from school to work.

Five regions have been selected for evaluation namely the National Capital Region (NCR), Region III (Central Luzon), Region VI (Western Visayas), Region VII (Central Visayas) and Region XI (Davao Region) wherein 13 Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) with highest enrollee numbers representing about 35,000 screened applicants will be selected by IPA.

For Region XI, the 13 PESOs selected are Davao City, Monkayo in Compostela Valley (Comval), Davao del Sur, Don Bosco Training Center in Davao Oriental, Maco in Comval, Tagum City, Mati City, Panabo City, Tarragona in Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, New Bataan in Comval, Manay in Davao Oriental, and Kapalong in Davao del Norte.

For the program evaluation, DOLE has partnered with the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) with Leigh Linden from the University of Texas in Austin, Emily Beam from the National University of Singapore, Stella Quimbo from the University of the Philippines and Nathaneal Goldberg from IPA as principal investigators.

After about one year IPA will then follow up 8,000 randomly chosen applicants and compare their outcomes with those who have not been randomly selected.

Participants will include youths aging 15 to 25 who have passed SPES initial screening which includes being in school with an average passing grade in the past term attended or an out of school youth wanting to re-enroll who has been certified with “good moral character” by their barangay and youth coming from a family with a total income falling below the regional poverty line.

After beginning the finalization of the research design and process evaluation last year, DOLE XI coordinators are currently recruiting and screening applicants for the study. The team then targets to conduct an administrative data collection by mid-April and the implementation from May to June. The evaluation will run until 2017.

Other than DOLE, this evaluation will also be helpful to local PESOs, the National Government and other countries in providing insights to the program’s effect on students’ academic outcomes which include enrollment rates, development of work values, and job seeking.

The evaluation results will be disseminated to DOLE regional offices, implementing partners in the country, and internationally as well. This first SPES impact evaluation aims to inform stakeholders about the program’s effectiveness and as reference in crafting youth employment programs.

Kriztja Marae G. Labrador/LCO-DOLEXI