In the wake of the political and economic crisis in the Middle East, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said it is prepared to assist returning or displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“We can provide free competency assessment and certification for repatriated workers who wish to confirm whether they possess the competencies required in a preferred workplace,” TESDA Director General Irene Isaac said.
She said that TESDA can also provide the necessary technical vocational (tech-voc) training for those who need it, referring to these services as skills retooling.
“We have to see to it that our countrymen end up being more confident with their capabilities than they were before, and are even more qualified to find work,” she said.
These services are provided through one of TESDA’s flagship programs, the Competency Assessment and Certification for Workers (CACW) which, aside from OFWs, is also open to other workers, trainers and Department of Education teachers.
Free training is given through the scholarship programs of the agency, such as the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), the Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA) and the Special Training for Employment Program (STEP).
TESDA recorded more than 890 returning or displaced OFWs nationwide who were assisted in 2015, mostly through free training.
This year, with an approved budget of more than P6.6 billion, TESDA is targeting more than two million graduates and aims to assess about 1.3 million out of these graduates.
Access of OFWs to these TESDA services has now been made even easier through the newly-launched Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) Centers and e-Assist WELL database system.
Presently, there are 18 centers located nationwide. The database system are the result of the Department of Labor and Employment’s Assist WELL Program that aims to provide returning OFWs services as free food or accommodation, job placement or referral, competency assessment and certification, business loan assistance, and legal counseling.
TESDA together with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), and Financial Management Service (FMS) will be fielding their respective personnel to the Assist WELL Centers.
The e-Assist WELL is a single data base system for registering returning/repatriated OFWs to facilitate the efficient servicing and monitoring of Assist WELL services provided to them.
At the inauguration of the Assist WELL Center at the PST Hall of the POEA Building in Mandaluyong City last February 5, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz explained that the program is an initiative of the Office of the President to institutionalize the services provided to returning OFWs.
“The Assist WELL centers offer a one-stop shop of welfare, employment, legal and livelihood assistance for OFW repatriates,” she said.
Assistance to returning OFWs can start before they enter the country, as the concerned Philippine Overseas Labor Office or Philippine Embassy, through the OWWA, processes their profiles and determines their needs. Upon their arrival, they will be provided assistance at the airport. OFWs may also approach the nearest Assist WELL Center to avail of the services.
DOLE estimates that around 1.7 million documented OFWs may be displaced in the Middle East. However, it also stated that there are enough positions available locally and in other international markets. END