MANILA — When Liberal Party senatorial candidate Joel Villanueva resigned last Oct. 9 as Director-General and Secretary of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), he left behind a legacy of having turned a former controversial office into one of the overachieving government agencies.
Villanueva, a former party-list representative of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC), was appointed to the TESDA post by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010.
Under him, TESDA amplified its functions of teaching and training people for technical-vocational jobs that are less expensive than in the usual academic learning yet relevant, innovative, practical and rarely outdated with above average pay here or abroad.
Thus, job mismatch gap is slowly but surely being narrowed down and the stigma of being just a “tech-voc” (technical-vocational) graduate is fast being erased.
To address the job-skills mismatch, TESDA fast-tracked the implementation of the Philippine Qualifications Framework or PQF.
The PQF is designed to boost the employers’ confidence among Filipino workers by making them more competitive and employable.
Since then, more than 10 million youths have graduated as confident tech-voc manpower properly equipped with training, skills and certification to join the country’s local and foreign workforce or put up their own business enterprises.
The future of the country’s economy depends on industries and businesses that have well-trained, skilled and knowledgeable manpower keeping abreast with the ever-changing or reinventing global circle.
With several courses coming up, life will be better for many Filipinos by moving skilled and certified and dignified Filipino workers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other parts of the globe as well as through the country’s own world-class programs and services.
To do this, TESDA has actively participated in the development of the K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Program to be fully implemented starting with the 2016 Curriculum of Grades 11 and 12 in high school to explore several skills from 53-and adding tech-voc specialization list of technologies.
After Villanueva resigned last October to run for a Senate seat in the 2016 national elections, President Aquino appointed technical-vocational education training expert Irene Isaac as the new TESDA Director General.
In summarizing TESDA’s Accomplishment Report covering January to October 2015, Isaac announced during the agency’s Christmas party on Dec. 17 that the Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) sector has enrolled a total of 1,645,418 trainees just in the first 10 months of 2015.
Of these, a total of 1,502,656 finished their respective courses and graduated.
The new TESDA Director-General said the agency is on track in meeting its target enrollees of 2,185,221 and graduates of 1,966,699 until the end of the year as trainees continue to get into tech-voc courses in various accredited institutions all over the country.
Data on the assessment of graduates showed that as of October, a total of 1,097,909 have taken the skills assessment, of which 1,003,928 have been certified.
“The certification of graduates is not the end of the line of TESDA services. Going the extra mile, we want to see them through their employment,” Isaac said.
TESDA is conducting annually a tracer study on the employment of tech-voc graduates.
The most recent study shows that six out of 10 graduates get employed within six months to one year after completing their programs.
Isaac noted that employment in companies is not the only path for tech-voc graduates, but engaging in business or livelihood as well.
This is the reason why the agency has introduced the Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) that aims to provide not only technical skills but also entrepreneurial acumen to enable the graduates to start their own small businesses.
In addition to STEP, TESDA’s major scholarship programs include the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) and Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA).
From January to October this year, the number of subsidized enrollees under TWSP has reached 201,060, followed by PESFA with 17,683; and STEP, 9,362.
TESDA’s online program, designed to reach as many Filipino learners as possible, registered a total of 631,268 users, exceeding the program target of 424,588. The program has also added eight new additional courses this year to cater to the needs of the online users.
Currently, there are 37 training programs available online.
In meeting the critical skills requirements of companies, the agency continues to develop and update its Training Regulations (TRs) in collaboration with industry practitioners.
As of end-October, TESDA has developed and updated 75 TRs in various qualifications.
TESDA has also adhered to the requirements for transparent governance by posting in its website up-to-date information such as reports, major programs and projects and their status of implementation, annual procurement plan, contracts awarded, names of contractors and suppliers.
“The goal is towards relevant and quality tech-voc that not only produces graduates, but individuals who will gain decent employment,” Isaac said.
“TESDA will continue to rise up to meet the changing needs of the market, link with the public and private sector partners and put in place good governance practices within the agency,” she added.
In addition to TESDA’s ISO 9001:2008 nationwide certification, the agency has likewise applied for the Philippine Quality Awards for Exemplary Organizational Performance.
It has also expanded its partnership with industry associations, companies and local government units in various areas such as skills training, enterprise-based training, assessment and certification, and scholarships, among others. Lily O. Ramos/PNA/northboundasia.com