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From Where We Sit

Opening a world of opportunities for Filipino out-of-school youth

The coronavirus pandemic has affected about 4 million out-of-school youth in the current academic year, according to the Department of Education (DepEd). This number is expected to increase, with students unlikely to return to classrooms any time soon and magnified by schools’ apparent lack of readiness to adapt to online and blended learning.

Parents are still uncomfortable about sending their children to school, as they remain concerned about their safety, and their dissatisfaction with online learning and other alternative approaches offered by learning institutions solidified that discomfort.

Questions are still being raised, with one of the biggest being: How do we provide our out-of-school youth an opportunity to continue with their education, even outside the formal school system, amid Covid-19?

Although we recognize the efforts of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in training millions of Filipinos through its various vocational programs, we believe the private sector also plays an important role in providing young, out-of-school Filipinos with access to more opportunities to learn new skills, earn a diploma and get jobs.

On January 25, the P&A Grant Thornton Academy kickstarted its first Foundations in Accountancy (FIA) program in partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). It is a blended learning program involving live sessions with expert-tutors and self-paced online learning. Sixteen young men and women of different academic backgrounds and learning goals participated in the program.

This program introduces the basics of accounting and finance. It is ideal for anyone interested to start a career in accountancy, finance and business. After less than a month of study, participants can occupy a wide variety of junior accounting roles within a business organization here and abroad.

On the program’s third day, I had the opportunity to ask the students about their learning experiences during the live sessions and interacting with the digital learning platform. One comment that made an impression on me was by a student working as an administrative staff member. The student said: “I learned a lot during the sessions and feel confident to talk to our accountant.”

Testimonials like that are truly inspiring, and we at the P&A Grant Thornton Academy would like to share a consistent learning experience across all our program offerings and provide learning opportunities to our country’s growing number of our pandemic-hit out-of-school youth.

Besides the expertise and experience of tutors, effective learning programs should involve innovative teaching and learning approaches, combined with access to a premium online learning platform that is fully compatible with smartphones, tablets and computers, which can appeal to Generation Z’s out-of-school members.

There are differences in the way these members have grown up, particularly in using technology. They grew up with it and are looking for learning experiences that use it purposefully, not thoughtlessly.

Receiving certification in financial and management accounting or any field opens doors to a world of exciting, rewarding and unlimited opportunities. What makes studying for available courses more interesting for our out-of-school youth is that they can earn a certificate, diploma and professional accountancy qualification without going to college or university and spending a fortune.

For instance, earning a diploma in accounting and business can only take fewer than three months of intensive study at a cost equal to the tuition for one semester. There is usually no entry qualification required for these programs, and students can start as early as Grade 10.

These learning opportunities are indeed useful to not only the 4 million out-of-school youth affected by the pandemic, but also for those who lost their jobs and thinking of starting a career a new field.

Whether you lack an academic background, are just starting a career or already a professional, there is a learning pathway out there that is right for you.

Jess Obana is the head of the ACCA programs and a senior managing consultant of the Advisory Services Division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 22 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you. Tweet us: @GrantThorntonPH; like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton; and send your comments to or For more information, visit


As published in The Manila Times, dated 03 February 2021