Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva said that the state of the agency has been transformed from being worrisome to stable in the five years under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
"The state of TESDA five years ago was worrisome. Now it is no longer the case,” Villanueva said in his report which was used for the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
“Through quality-assured system, good governance and the Aquino administration's strong and sustained support, the agency has been able to fully groom Filipino workers for better employment options, a productive life and a better future," he added.
Villanueva said the employment rate of TESDA scholars was only 28.5 percent when he took the post in July 2010, and many technical vocational graduates could not find jobs.
A number of training centers were also found to be bogus and below standard. Irregularities hound the agency, including the P2.4 billion allotment of the previous administration, which was not authorized and unfunded, and the overpriced dough cutter, which led to the filing of criminal charges against past officials.
The TESDA chief said that several reforms were put in place that turn around the agency, resulting in better accountability, more quality programs and courses that ushered in jobs for its graduates.
He identified seven reforms that helped transform the agency, namely:
1.Nationwide ISO Certification;
2.Effective implementation of the Training for Work Scholarship Program;
3.Free TESDA Online Program;
4.Community-based training programs;
5.Onsite assessment and certification for overseas Filipino workers;
6.Institutionalization of the Philippine Qualifications Framework; and,
7.Promulgation of Training Regulations aligned with the needs of the industries.
From 28.5 percent, the employment rate under the TWSP leaped to 71.9 percent in 2014.
Partnership with industries was crucial in boosting the implementation of the TWSP, particularly in IT-BPM (Information Technology-Business Process Management), semi-conductor and electronics, tourism, construction, among others.
TESDA's online program helped link more students to technical vocational education, allowing them to study at their own pace, at their own time, wherever they are.
To date, there are more than 552,000 registered users in the Philippines and abroad for 30 courses in the last three years.
One of its innovative programs, the Mobile Training Laboratory went to far-flung communities to reach poor but deserving students who want to get into tech-voc.
In collaboration with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), 40 mobile labs will roll out in priority areas, which can help 23,100 individuals finish various tech-voc courses and gain access to decent employment.
The newly-launched onsite competency assessment services have targeted OFWs in vulnerable jobs such as those in Hong Kong, Middle East, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Middle East.
As it continues to spread tech-voc education to the youth, TESDA consistently reviews its courses and subjects them to improvement to meet the needs of industries.
There is now the Philippine Qualifications Register hosted in the TESDA website with the following sectors: Accountancy, Dentistry, Engineering, Tourism and Maritime. The register provides information in the educational qualifications available in levels aligned to the descriptors of the Philippine Qualifications Framework.
TESDA has also completed benchmarking construction qualifications using private sector-led ASEAN Constructors Federation standards.
There are other on-going projects with TESDA involvement such as the Vocational and Education Benchmarking Project with Australia, Philippines and Vietnam to enhance the comparability of skills outcomes in manufacturing, logistics, agri-fishery, construction and automotive servicing qualifications.
Villanueva recognized a number of tech-voc graduates, who have hurdled difficulties in life, partly because of their involvement in tech-voc education, which paved the way for their successful careers.
Among them were polio victim Mark Escora, a former jeepney barker, who is now an Escalation Supervisor and preparing to become manager; Jennifer Doble, a solo parent to five children, who sold palamig (cold drinks), and who is now earning more than P2,000 a day after being certified in Beauty Care and Wellness Massage; Jar-Ar Rotaquio, another polio victim, who now has his own tocino and vinegar-making business; Rowena Payoran, who found job in a spa after getting a National Certificate; Cristina Reyes, who after finishing a course on Massage Therapy now has her own spa; and, Rey Caseres, an automotive mechanic, who is now in Perth Australia and earning triple of what he used to earn.
"Most tech-voc graduates depicted how they overcame obstacles in life. Their stories of success serve as testimony that tech-voc can really help achieve 'masayang pagbabago'," Villanueva said. END