The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) threw its support for the passage of a bill revising and strengthening the country's apprenticeship program.
Substitute Bill No. 5303, which provides for a "revised apprenticeship program" was recently approved on second reading at the House of Representatives and awaiting the same action from the Senate.
"The main objective of the bill is to reform the existing national apprenticeship program by putting more emphasis on the skills acquisition of the apprentices and give them wider access to employment. The program will likewise provide enterprises with a mechanism to ensure a continuous supply of skilled manpower," the authors of the measure said.
TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said that focus has been more on academic-based learning than on the workplace learning component and occupational component.
"Apprenticeship requires skill development in a workplace over a period of time. This is supplemented by learnings from the classroom which leads to the mastery of the skills," Villanueva said.
The Apprenticeship Program is part of TESDA's Enterprise-Based Programs being implemented within companies or firms. It is a training and employment program involving a contract between an apprentice and an employer on an approved apprenticeable occupation. Generally, it aims to provide a mechanism that will ensure availability of qualified skilled workers based on industry requirements, according to Villanueva.
The period of apprenticeship covers a minimum of three months and a maximum of six months. Only companies with approved and registered apprenticeship programs under TESDA, he said, can hire apprentices.
Substitute Bill No. 5303 seeks to repeal Chapters I and II of Title II of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines.
It sets the duration of the training according to the complexity of the skills to be learned by the apprentices, thereby amending the existing law’s provision that limits the training period to six months only.
The bill also introduces a provision that the contributions to the training allowance by government agencies and/or non-government organizations shall be considered in computing the training allowances of apprentices presently placed at seventy-five percent (75%) of the minimum wage.
It also provides for the issuance of training certificates to apprentices who have completed the apprenticeship program comparable to the completion of a training program in a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, and the award of equivalent unit credits in the formal system of education.
Likewise, the bill includes a provision on compulsory apprenticeship in certain occupations that shall be determined by the TESDA Board, when national security or requirements of economic development so demand.
The bill retains the provision for the incentive of the participating enterprises, which provides an additional deduction from the gross income, instead of taxable income, of one-half (1/2) of the labor training expenses, provided that: a) the employer shall be exempt from the payment of apprenticeship fee, and b) such deduction shall not exceed ten percent (10%) of the training allowance of the apprentices instead of the direct labor wages.
Another salient provision requires participating entities in the apprenticeship program to provide a disability and/or accident insurance policy in favor of the apprentices during the apprenticeship period.
The bill is authored by Representatives Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales, Rodrigo Abellanosa, Juan Johnny Revilla, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Karlo Alexei Nograles, Gustavo Tambunting, Leah S. Paquiz, and Roy Seneres, Sr. END