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Tech-Voc in the Philippines is part of our country’s non-formal education that primarily involves theoretical and practical training to acquire relevant skills for various jobs across different economic sectors.
Tech-Voc Education in the Philippines is encouraged by private TVET institutions to have it professionally accredited and issue a proper licensing. A call to action to review the trifocal system of Education in the country. More importantly, the need for tech-vocational instructors with expertise is qualified to train our future skilled professionals making way for the Philippines to be recognized as a globally competitive tech-voc school in Asia.
If our institutes (TVI) are managed and monitored well, they will be able to produce world-class and skilled graduates who can compete strongly against our neighboring countries. Tech-voc graduates fill an essential role in different industries in the country and overseas. And if our tech-voc graduates become job-ready and globally competitive, they could contribute a lot to the national income and economy. One industry that is in dire need of skills and various technical know-how is the service industry, and we are talking worldwide here. What a big void to fill!
Highly-industrialized countries like Japan, Singapore, and Korea have made necessary advancements in their educational system, focusing on academic excellence and technological innovation. These progressive countries teach their citizens to become productive, income-generating, and contribute to the national coffers. They emphasize the quality of products and services and invest in technical training. These countries believe in the strength of their workforce and their role in the national economy.
It is time to put an end to the fairy tale that a four-year course is the only avenue to attaining a decent lifestyle. The technical field is very, very wide, uncharted, and not yet competitive, which is a far cry from the competitive, dog-eat-dog corporate world.
A Need for Framework Revision
The two main agencies tasked with providing basic education in the country are DepEd or Department of Education for the academics, and TESDA, which stands for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, which is mandated to provide direction, policies, programs, and standards towards quality technical education and skills development. The two bodies should complement each other so that there will be no overlapping of roles that could create conflicts in implementing their programs. However, it seems that the curriculum of these two bodies has created some challenges for both of them. Ever since the K-12 curriculum has been implemented, DepEd has gotten some resources from TESDA because the tech-voc curriculum should be handled by experts in the technical field and not by a regular teacher. So this phenomenon, which was unseen as the would-be effect of the K-12, needs to be resolved.
During the recent Sonshine Media Network International [SMNI] News presidential debates, University of the Philippines professor Clarita Carlos remarked: “Education is so pivotal to the life of the nation. Why in heaven’s name did we divide our education system into DepEd, K-12, and ChEd? At kung bobo ka diyan ka na lang sa tech voc. There’s something so brainless about those divisions.”
Even Governor Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu appealed to DepEd and TESDA to focus on their respective mandates. She stated that the Department of Education should focus on basic education and on the students’ academic performances, and TESDA can take care of the technical skills.
Give TESDA Free Rein
TESDA should be given complete responsibility by the government for technical and vocational training, a separate agency from DOLE, DTI, and DepEd. However, TESDA needs to go beyond providing instructions and training. Skills assessment should be thorough and must meet globally-competitive criteria. And lastly, granting professional licenses to successful graduates would give them the recognition that would elevate their status from merely a tech-voc graduate into a professional practitioner of their chosen skill. Possessing a license gives graduates a sense of pride and achievement. Licensing should be the goal that each tech-voc graduate must aim for because acquiring a license would give them a right to demand a higher salary and compensation for their services. And most of all, they can be on par with the technical graduates of progressive countries. The licensure test “is the final ‘quality control’ check before tech-voc graduates are allowed to practice a profession that depends on people’s lives or safety of buildings like carpenters, cosmetology, and culinary graduates, among many other service-oriented fields.
Licensure examination is but one wheel in the big cog of the Philippine Qualifications Framework. The said framework supposedly sets multiple criteria that measure quality assurance principles and standards of the Filipino professional, technician, and craftsman.
Performing this mandate would mean for TESDA to do a much-needed review of its services and offers. What could TESDA offer to their future enrollees to attract more of them in the future and for TESDA to be an effective arm of the government for manpower development?
Reshaping Tech-Voc in the Philippines
It is proposed that the tech-voc curriculum be on two tracks: the courses offered will be service-oriented or product-oriented. These two classifications will serve different purposes and will be monitored differently.
|Product-Oriented Tracks||Service-Oriented Tracks|
|No pre-requisite||Pre-requisite: HS graduate|
|Only product quality control||Customer and Practitioner’s Protection|
|Do not require higher academic|
|Service-Oriented professions are|
measure by the quality of service thru
|This is measured only through quality|
|It promotes respect, prestige and|
protection to the client and also the
Product-oriented tracks are designed to alleviate poverty and provide income-generating projects to barangay folks like stay-at-home moms, out-of-school youths, drug dependents, seniors/retirees, jobless folks, and surrenderees. Some of these product-oriented tracks are called cottage industries and can be done in the backyard or in a factory for SMEs. Some of these are:
The training package for this track must include Salesmanship/Entrepreneurship, managerial, marketing and bookkeeping. These livelihood training are best for barangays and provincial training through Barangay Kasanayan para sa kabuhayan at kapayapaan (BKKK) set by TESDA. TESDA will also provide for the necessary tools and materials as well as equipment for this skill training.
The Service-Oriented Sector/Industries are the following:
The above mentioned are all professional tracks and require a high school diploma as a basic requirement. Tech-voc service-oriented profession is not just a simple trade and all service-oriented tracks will be identified by specific specialization based on the industry qualification.
President Rodrigo expressed in one of his speeches, “Kaya ang Build, Build, Build, medyo atrasado ng konti. Walang trabahante. We are lacking in experts in carpentry, welding, and other technical skills. We have a lot of jobless because they are not qualified even in vocational, especially construction.”
As of now, joblessness and lack of experts in vocational and technical skills is really a big concern, but if TESDA will be given free rein, TESDA can perform its main mandate faster and more efficiently.
In the COVID-19 recovery phase, there are opportunities for smart investment in tech-voc education and training to “build back better” programs and systems. Tech-voc may be able to cater to students who dropped out during school closures and reskilling or upskilling those who have become unemployed. Tech-voc can also facilitate the development of skills necessary to adjust structural changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Continued focus on ensuring the acquisition and development of foundational cognitive and socioemotional skills, such as empathy and resilience, which
have become increasingly valued in the current circumstances, will improve employability and other human development outcomes for tech-voc students. Moreover, investment in learning technology and digital skills of tech-voc instructors and students can ensure lifelong access to learning opportunities and future workforce adaptability.
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To conclude, if our TVETs follow global standards and are just competitive with that of our Asian neighbors, there will be fewer OFWs because TVET graduates can establish their own businesses and can get better-paying jobs locally.
TESDA should be independent from other government agencies to provide technical-vocational training and education. However, other agencies can complement because agencies like DepEd help in the basic education of children, while DOLE and DTI give assistance in the employment and livelihood programs, respectively.
Good, high-paying jobs await qualified tech-voc grads. If only they’re given proper incentives, multisectoral support and a supportive policy environment, the tech-voc track can also be a viable alternative for young Filipinos who wish to lead productive lives.
We may still have a long way toward strengthening our tech-voc ecosystem in the country, but with a little help and support from the government, industry, and academe, we are making crucial inroads that lay the foundation for the future. As we promote tech-voc to the youth to undergo tech-voc training, we hope that tech-voc professionalism and licensing will soon be implemented as well.
And hopefully in the coming years and decades, the state of tech-voc education in the Philippines will further be improved so that when we ask Filipino children what they want to be when they grow up, we hope many of them will also answer that they would want to take the tech-voc path and become a carpenter, a forklift driver or a farming technician. And by then, these children would no longer be laughed at nor looked down with the career choices they’ve made.