Chef de cuisine Jobellyn Barbasa in action.
Hope in Youthworks
Maverick Flores (The Philippine Star) - June 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Jobellyn Barbasa, 30, works as chef de cuisine at The  Peninsula Manila’s Escolta Restaurant, the highest position in the kitchen. While she has only been working in the industry since 2012, Jobellyn quickly rose through the ranks because of an advantage.

 “When I started, it was very hard because I have colleagues who are much older than me,” Jobellyn said in Filipino. “I almost quit, but my education taught me that I can overcome this if I just show them that I can work.”

According to Jobellyn, the training she received from a two-year course with Punlaan School in San Juan City pushed her to success. Through the school’s Dual Training System (DTS) – a technical and vocational education and training delivery system that combines in-school and work-based training – Jobellyn alternated every few months between training in the school and in an actual kitchen at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel’s Paparazzi restaurant.

“The [DTS] became my edge against other interns and eventually my co-workers, since I already knew what is really happening in the kitchen,” she said.

Because of the partnership between Punlaan and Shangri-La Hotel, Jobellyn was hired straight out of training as a kitchen helper at Paparazzi in 2012. Seven years later,  as she sits at the helm of a world-class restaurant, she continues to master her craft.

“Punlaan taught me to be virtuous in approaching my profession,” Jobellyn said. “I still do research on how I can improve and add to my techniques. I ask my colleagues for some ideas.”

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim leads USAID officials and PBEd officers as they launch the YouthWorksPH recruitment drive.

Punlaan School is just one of many partner schools and corporations that help YouthWorks PH – a workforce development project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) – attain its goals for young Filipinos.

In a bid to improve opportunities in youth education and employability, the P1.7-billion program aims to recruit high school graduates aged 18-24 who are not in school, employment or training (NEET) and provide them with work-based skills training through partner schools and corporations.

“As we shatter the barriers faced by the youth when searching for employment, we must give them holistic education that will empower them and make this industry better in the process,” said Karol Mark Yee, YouthWorks PH chief of party.

YouthWorks PH aims to reach 41,000 NEET across the Greater Manila Area, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos City and Zamboanga. Out of these, the goal is to get 4,000 trainees employed in various companies.

“We are working very closely with the private sector to give the youth relevant work readiness and job skills training, so that they are ready to accept the challenge,” said USAID Office of Education director Brian Levey during a recent media briefing.

He added: “Work readiness or life skills include how to present oneself, how to communicate with customers and how to work effectively with colleagues.”

YouthWorks PH recently conducted their first recruitment drive in Cagayan de Oro. This was attended by youth interested in construction-based technical vocational programs. A recruitment drive in Quezon City was held last month in partnership with Punlaan School. This was attended by 430 youth interested in culinary and hospitality.

The program’s latest outreach was at the University of Makati. More than 500 youth were presented construction career opportunities in partnership with EEI Corporation.

Among the youth who participated in YouthWorksPH’s outreach events was 18-year-old Sherey Anne Silvano from Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Silvano has been a scholar since she started school. She participates in activities to get better opportunities for her continuing education.

“My father is the only one supporting me. I’ve been looking to get a job – any job – so I can sustain myself as I continue my education,” Sherey said in Filipino. “I hope YouthWorks can bridge us to more programs that tackle future in-demand jobs.”

Khrizia Mae Mallari, also 18, went to the same event to learn about opportunities for scholarships, now that she’s about to graduate from senior high school. Khrizia’s father is the family’s only breadwinner. Thus, her family has to rely on cash benefits from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“I am grateful for this free workshop because just listening here gives me a chance to study in college,” Khrizia said in Filipino. “I will share whatever I can learn from this.”

As for Jobellyn, she wants to inspire more youth to achieve what she had accomplished. “My advice to them is to not lose hope even if they don’t have the means. Everything will be OK.”

Youth like Sherey and Khrizia will have more chances to explore opportunities from YouthWorks PH’s initiatives, as the program is set to conduct more recruitment drives and outreach events in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo and Zamboanga.

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For more information about YouthWorks PH, log on to Those interested to join future YouthWorks PH trainings can register at

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