Mapúa Malayan Digital College launches movement for PH working students

It is never too late to earn a college degree. This is how 32-year-old Jezzel Garcia sees it. That’s why even if she has already been promoted to a managerial post in a local business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, she is still determined to return to school while keeping her job.

“I am thankful to have the opportunity and time to resume schooling while keeping my job,” Garcia told TV host Karen Davila during a gathering organized by the Mapúa Malayan Digital College (MMDC). “I’ve been a breadwinner since I was young. That’s why I set aside college for some time so I could support my family.”

Fortunately, the BPO firm recognized and valued the skills Garcia developed during her years of BPO employment. Now that she has the capability and time to earn a degree, she is taking the chance to work harder—waking up by 12 noon each day and attending online classes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. before logging in to her BPO job remotely at home.

Garcia’s story is just one of the numerous inspiring realities of ‘Step Up sa Pangarap,’ a pioneering movement that brings together the academe and industries to celebrate, support, and empower working students across the country.

Step Up sa Pangarap was formally unveiled at a media event held at 205 Coffee and Cocktails in BGC on February 16. It kicked off with a series of inspiring stories of working students, including Garcia.

The main highlight of the campaign will gather working students from across the country for a three-day virtual summit to be held on May 10-12, 2023. Featuring a roster of speakers composed of industry leaders, influencers, and former working students who found success in their respective careers, the event will empower the working student community on how to achieve their goals and provide them with access to coaches and mentors who can help further prepare attendees for the real world.

The online summit will particularly discuss three key areas where our working students can be successful:

  • Step Up sa Career – A deep discussion on the skills to acquire and steps to be taken towards further career development
  • Step Up sa Buhay – A comprehensive talk that tackles the importance of work-school-life balance and how to achieve it
  • Step Up sa Pera – An in-depth session that covers all the bases of how individuals can stay on top of their finances and make smart investments towards their future

Watch out for the full lineup of inspiring and noteworthy speakers.

Following the summit, the movement challenges working students on how they can best apply their learnings. Participants will be encouraged to join the Step Up sa Tagumpay Awards by submitting entries on how they plan to apply their learnings from the virtual summit and“Step Up” in their careers, lives, and finances. The most compelling stories stand to win MMDC scholarships and other awards at the awards night to be held online on May 25, 2023.

The challenges of today’s working students

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, data analytics, information security, software development, and business development are among the top industries where the demand for professionals will grow significantly by 2025. While these statistics are indicative of emerging workforce trends brought on by rapid digitalization across the world, many real-world challenges stand in the way of today’s learners hoping to begin or advance their careers. Skills gaps exist between industry needs and the technical skills that graduates have, and in the case of non-graduate undergrad employees, options for career advancement remain limited due to the lack of a college diploma.

In a survey conducted by MMDC through TheNerve on what students looked for in a college, career opportunities emerged as the top reason for potential returnees to enroll. While many working adults may express the desire to finish their college education, factors such as the inability to balance work, personal life, and school, the lack of time to commute to a physical campus, and the availability of funding prevent them from doing so.

“At McDonald’s, we are committed in fostering a working environment where everyone is supported, empowered, and enabled to reach their full potential. It starts with job security. As a company with close to 50,000 employees, and the first QSR that has practiced direct hiring (no contractualization) since we began operations in 1981, we have seen how this, together with development opportunities like the Step Up sa Pangarap Program, allows our crew to grow and develop to become future leaders. At McDonald’s, we believe that providing the best employee experience results in a better experience for all,” says Adi Hernandez, Corporate Relations Director at McDonald’s Philippines, one of MMDC’s partners for the movement.

From left to right: Joshua Villanueva, Partnerships and Corporate Communications Manager; Jenny Chua, Mapua Malayan Digital College Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships; Celeste Ilagan, Chief Policy and Regulatory Affairs Officer of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines; Engr. Dennis Tablante, Mapua Malayan Digital College Executive Director; and Sofia Alexine Leongson, Partnerships and Corporate Communications Associate

A better college experience for future working students

For many Filipino working adults, getting a chance to finish a college degree to become more competitive in the workplace might seem like a goal that’s out of reach. With so many responsibilities to juggle and so little time to spare between them, going to a physical campus to sit in class and devote the energy to study seems almost close to impossible.

Recognizing these and other considerations of working students, as well as the growth opportunities in today’s in-demand industries, MMDC leads the celebration of our working students across the country. Together with the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and its employer partners, MMDC is rallying a community of employers and industry associations to ensure that working students become successful in the fields of Business Administration and Information Technology.

“The Philippines is a global leader in IT-BPM services for a reason—the Filipino talent,” said Celeste Ilagan, IBPAP Chief Policy & Regulatory Affairs Officer. “In turn, the sector has become one of their biggest champions and through the years, we’ve worked with the government and the academe to ensure that they are provided every opportunity to develop their skills and remain competitive. With our goal to grow Philippine IT-BPM into a US$59 billion industry with 2.5 million full-time employees (FTEs), the plan is to further accelerate our efforts in talent development through more initiatives like Step Up sa Pangarap and stronger collaborations with partners like MMDC.”

Grounded on the Mapúan brand of academic excellence, MMDC’s innovative Projects, Problems, and Cases educational model and digital-first approach to learning are designed for flexibility. This model also equips students with real-world experience as well as the technical and soft skills needed in the workforce. All these at a very affordable and competitive price to ensure that the majority of the working students will have access to this relevant and effective learning experience.

“Returning students need to understand, just getting a degree may not help you.  Writing a paper about theories from 50 years ago isn’t going to open new career opportunities.  Instead, getting a degree that delivers competencies in demand today and tomorrow will unlock opportunities to further one’s career. As an outcomes-based and digital-first college, the MMDC educational model was designed to be flexible and accessible to address the factors keeping potential working students from coming back to school, said Derrick Latreille, Chief Learning Officer of MMDC and Co-founder of Ayala Education. “Since we opened our doors, almost 60% of our learners are currently working students. Through this campaign, we aim to empower more potential returnees across the country to pursue a college degree that will make a difference in their career, at an institution that supports their needs.”