Retooling, upskilling of workers crucial under new normal setup

WORKERS now need to adapt to the changes in business operations brought about by the pandemic as economic activities resume, a top official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.

“Online or blended learning programs will now play a key role in providing opportunities for Filipinos who will require retooling and upskilling, especially those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic,” said Neda Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

Chua cited the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Online Program (Top) launched in 2012 to serve as an open educational resource that will make technical education more accessible to Filipinos through the use of information and communications technology (ICT).

Courses

Currently, the Top has 70 available online courses under 16 categories.

Technical-vocational institutions may now adopt flexible learning delivery modes depending on institutional capacity, trainer’s capability and learner’s access to ICT.

According to the Top monitoring report, some 564,828 users, 70 percent of whom are female, enrolled during the enhanced community quarantine period. Meanwhile, 62 percent of active users revealed that they registered to the Top in light of the lockdown. These users expressed that they intend to learn more skills either to secure their jobs or to find new employment.

The report also identified tourism (21 percent), entrepreneurship (16 percent), 21st century skills (14 percent) and ICT (10 percent) as the most enrolled courses in the Top.

Courses such as utilizing electronic media in facilitating training, development of training curriculum (blended) and facilitating e-learning sessions were developed to address the skills needed in the education sector due to the shift to flexible learning delivery modes.

Because of this, Chua emphasized the importance of digital transformation particularly in government offices.

“As we transition to a new normal where physical contact remains restricted, we need to invest in digital transformation. This is an important structural reform that will allow us to continue to provide educational, training, and other social services and also enable people and businesses to transact with government more safely and easily,” the Neda chief said.

“It will be a difficult process. While the government itself invests in infrastructure, we also need to have competition policies that will encourage the private sector to help improve the country’s information technology infrastructure. The challenge is how to bring down the cost while increasing the quality of services,” Chua added.

Unemployment

The country’s unemployment rate rose to 17.7 percent, accounting for 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force in April 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority report showed.

This is a record high in the unemployment rate, reflecting the effects of the Covid-19 economic shutdown on the labor market. The unemployment rate in January 2020 was at 5.3 percent while in April 2019, it was recorded at 5.1 percent. (KOC with PR)