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SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian, the co-chairperson of EDCOM 2, and Senator Joel Villanueva, a commissioner of EDCOM 2 and chair of the Senate Basic Education Committee, have raised concerns regarding the government’s expenditure of an estimated P2.77 billion on community-based TESDA scholars who did not undergo assessment.

Villanueva highlighted the significant number of graduates from community-based programs, citing TESDA data indicating that 36.21% of their graduates originate from these programs.

Among the 44,000 individuals enrolled in community-based TESDA programs this year, only 17,995 have graduated to date. Out of this group, just 4,086 have obtained a Certificate of Competency (CoC), and of those, only 3,937 have been awarded a National Certificate. Villanueva posed the question, “What happened to the balance?”

Gatchalian emphasized the government’s investment in training through scholarship programs but stressed the futility of this training without assessment and CoC, which are essential for securing employment opportunities.

A critical issue identified was the shortage of assessors and challenges in scheduling assessments, with TESDA Deputy Director General Aniceto Bertiz III noting that the agency currently has 7,593 assessors.

Considering an estimated 1.5 million clients in the entire TVET sector in the country, this equates to 197 clients per assessor, highlighting the severe shortage of assessors.

Gatchalian also advocated for the certification of Senior High School – Technical Vocational Livelihood (SHS-TVL) track students to enhance their employability. He proposed allocating P1 billion in the budget for the certification of approximately 400,000 SHS-TVL students.

He stressed the importance of assessments and certifications, emphasizing that “training is not the end goal” and that around 98% of SHS-TVL learners who take the certification exams pass, making it a worthwhile investment.

TESDA Director General Suharto Mangudadatu suggested training teachers and district supervisors from the Department of Education as TESDA trainers and assessors. However, Gatchalian acknowledged the need for contingency plans, as DepEd might have reservations about this proposal. (AI/MNM)

By Vergel Garcia

TECHNICAL Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Suharto Mangudadatu assured the public that tech-voc graduates are job ready, and that technical vocational education and training remains the quickest and most cost-effective way for skilling, reskilling and upskilling Filipino workers.

He issued the statement after some lawmakers lamented that tech-voc graduates earn below minimum wage.

“Our lawmakers may be looking at employment data gathered during the pandemic, when employers were forced to reduce their employees’ work hours due to prevailing restrictions,” Mangudadatu said.

“Now that restrictions have been lifted and the country’s recovery is truly underway, our tech-voc graduates are again contributing significantly to the economy,” he added.

He said cases of employers giving below minimum salaries should immediately be addressed.

“I encourage our kababayans to report employers that give their personnel remunerations that are below the mandatory minimum wages to the Department of Labor. We have laws to protect our workers, and these laws should be upheld and followed to the letter,” the TESDA chief said.

Mangudadatu said that tech-voc training programs are developed in close coordination with the industry to ensure that the knowledge, skills, and abilities are aligned with employers’ need.

“We continuously enter into partnerships with public and private companies and associations to get a very good idea of what employers and the industry require when it comes to workers’ competencies. By working with TESDA, these entities are essentially manifesting their confidence in Philippine TVET and its graduates,” he said.

A study conducted by TESDA showed that more than 50 percent of tech-voc trainees have either had some college studies or are college graduates. This may indicate that employers prefer applicants that have employable and in-demand skills in addition to college degrees.

Thus, more than 90 percent of overseas Filipino workers secure their National Certificates before starting their jobs abroad, as these certificates attest to their abilities.