he Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 11 is continuing this year its partnership with the private sector to provide jobs for underprivileged students and out-of-school youth in the region through the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES).

DOLE-11 regional director Jeoffrey Suyao, along with Dennis Badilles, officer in charge for technical support services; and Lilibeth Pantinople, manager of the Davao Public Employment Service Office (PESO) – discussed progress of SPES and criteria for hiring and training programs with McDonald’s Philippines last Tuesday at the department’s regional office here.

McDonald’s Philippines has been one of the DOLE’s partners in achieving “its goal of uplifting Filipino communities across the country,” following Republic Act (RA) Nos. 7323 and 9547.

RA 7323 is “an act to help poor but deserving students pursue their education by encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations, through incentives granted to employers, allowing them to pay only 60 per centum of their salaries or wages and the 40 per centum through education vouchers to be paid by the government, prohibiting and penalizing the filing of fraudulent or fictitious claims and for other purposes.”

RA 9547 is “an act strengthening and expanding the coverage of the SPES, amending for the purpose provisions of RA 7323, otherwise known as the SPES.”

Desiree Incio, SPES coordinator of the Davao PESO, said a total of 710 SPES slots were provided in Davao City last year from 14 companies, of which three are local.

She cited that among the DOLE’s partners here were the city government, Davao Light and Power Company, Gaisano Mall of Davao, Felcris Supermarket, Dunkin Donut, and other food chains.

Out of 710, the malls provided a total of 500 slots, of which 400 were from Felcris and 100 from Gaisano.

The PESO handles the processing of documents required from the SPES beneficiaries, including their contracts with employers, according to Rey Islana, Davao PESO staff.

Created through RA 8759 or Public Employment Service Office Act of 1999, the PESO shall facilitate employment of the beneficiaries, located in capital towns of provinces, key cities, and other strategic locations.

The PESO “shall ensure the prompt, timely and efficient delivery of employment service and provision of information on the other DOLE programs.”

Rebecca Roselada, McDonald’s Philippines director for human resources department, said in a press conference here the company and the DOLE are “bound by the common goal of giving the Filipino youth labor opportunities that enable them to fund their education and have a more positive tomorrow to look forward to.”

She explained that each student will be working for the company for 52 days and earn the salary that can help support their education. An SPES beneficiary’s responsibilities include maintaining the cleanliness of restaurant areas, proper preparation of beverages and desserts, and providing assistance to local store marketing team during events held at the company’s restaurant, Roselada cited.

Suyao said last year McDonald’s Philippines provided a total of 102 slots for SPES in two batches, and for this year, a total of 136 slots, particularly 44 beneficiaries to be hired from February to May, another 44 from May to August, and 48 from September to December.

[Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews]