Gov’t urged to restore TESDA’s scholarship fund for workers displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday called on the national government to restore the funding of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) scholarship programs to help displaced workers become more employable despite the economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, Villanueva said the agency’s capacity to provide training for displaced workers and overseas Filipino workers (OFW) was “severely hampered” when part of its budget was realigned for the government’s COVID-19 response.

The senator said about P2.3 billion of TESDA’s budget under the 2020 General Appropriations Act was realigned for COVID-19 fight under the Bayanihan Law.

“Mas mabilis at madali po sana ang pagbangon ng ating mga manggagawang nawalan ng trabaho kung may kakayahan ang TESDA na magbigay ng training para sa mga in-demand na trabaho,” Villanueva said.

“Sa panahon natin ngayon mas kailangan ang tech-voc upang i-ahon ang ating mga manggagawa sa kanilang sitwasyon,” he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier estimated that around five million Filpino workers will be displaced by the pandemic by the end of the year.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, stressed there is a need to restore TESDA’s scholarship fund to help OFWs who have lost their jobs, as well as online sellers trying to make a living amid the pandemic.

“Isa po ang tech-voc training sa mga mabisang sandata ng gobyerno laban sa problema sa kawalan ng trabaho,” Villanueva, who previously served as TESDA secretary, said.

He also appealed to the finance and budget departments to allocate more funding to help TESDA technology institutes (TTI) to purchase the appropriate equipment and software to be able to adequately and effectively deliver blended learning in light of the new normal.

TESDA likewise needs to build up the capacity of its trainers by training them to use learning management systems, and purchasing the necessary tools such as laptops, the senator added.

“The shift to blended learning delivery entails a lot of cost, but rather than seeing it as an expense, our government should look at it as an investment for our workers,” Villanueva said.

“After all, it is our workers who will jumpstart and sustain our economic recovery,” he added.

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