Paying OJTs possible, says DOLE official

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 June) – The proposal of incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones to pay on-the-job (OJOT) students for their service would be possible but guidelines should be put in place to prevent possible abuses on the part of the academe and companies, a labor official in Davao Region said Tuesday.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 11 director Joffrey M. Suyao told MindaNews that they welcome any proposal that will further improve the internship program of the students while noting that there are government agencies like the labor office and other private companies who pay the OJTs for their service.

“All of these things are welcome. You have to review because this is for the improvement of the program and for the betterment of the students. Should paying OJTs become a policy, then that would be good because it will help our students also in the process. They will be earning while they are still studying,” he said.

But Suyao added such scheme is vulnerable to abuses that certain measures must be put in place to protect both the students and the companies.

He explained that the companies may no longer see it necessary to hire regular employees because they can just tap the OJTs from the academe to work for them.

“What is happening is that there are industries [who] take opportunities of these schemes. For example, some companies don’t hire regular employees anymore because they just hire OJTs or tie up with schools who send a lot of OJTs to various companies.” Suyao said.

On the part of the graduates, he said that there are some who still go into OJTs even though this is already beyond the school requirement.

Suyao noted that going into an OJT program is requirement for graduation. Problem is, there are reports that some graduates abuse this program, working as OJT even though they already graduated, he added.

He proposed that lawmakers should set clear guidelines and safety nets to avoid these abuses, maximize the time that the students allocate for internship and ensure that they are learning during the program.

Suyao wants certain measures be set that will make sure OJTs keep their hands busy upon the start of their internship, so that the companies will arrive at the sound and objective decision “whether they pass or they fail, whether they qualify to graduate or not.”

The students, he said, do nothing in their OJT. “They’re being asked to make coffee. There is no proper way how to do it because ideally, if you go into OJT, there should be a contract and an outline what you want the students to do,” Suyao added.