November 19, 2018

The Association of South East Asian Nations Plus Three (APT) has moved to strengthen the industry/employers participation in upgrading the qualifications for technical vocational education and training (TVET).

This was agreed upon during the two-day “Conference on Sharing Best Practices on Harnessing Industry Involvement in Development of Higher Level Qualifications” organized by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) at the Dusit Thani Manila last Nov. 7-8.

The conference was attended by three representatives from each of the participating nations of the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) composed of one TVET institution head; a government policy-maker from the ministry managed by TVET; and a representative from the private sector either from the industry or labor who is a staunch supporter of any of the four areas of TVET.

Participating countries were from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Officials of the county's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), TESDA and representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat were also present.

In his welcome message, TESDA Director General, Secretary Isidro S. Lapeña, stressed that the conference is a realization of the concept that was formed in 2015, in response to the recommendation of the East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II Report, in an effort to “undertake strategic programs to produce a competent and well-equipped labor force”. TESDA was appointed by the DOLE to become the focal agency to lead in achieving various projects in support of the recommendation.

He also said that one of the objectives of the conference is to give importance to “industry involvement” and to ensure that laborers are ready for the challenges of the global landscape in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4lR).

“This conference shall look into industry involvement in ensuring the relevance and competitiveness of our workers in the midst of changes in the global landscape, and in response to the national realities that we are all facing, specifically the creation of new jobs, the loss of menial jobs due to automation, and the demand for higher-level skilled work force,” said Lapeña.

The measure is also in support to the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Work Programme 2016-2020 which aims to improve the workforce competitiveness and productivity; and, to the recommendation of the East Asia Vision Group ll to produce laborers who are qualified, skilled, and competent.

Aside from Lapeña, others guests who delivered messages were DOLE Undersecretary Renato M. Ebarle; and Assistant Secretary Junever M. Mahilum-West, of the DFA's Office of ASEAN Affairs.

Other objectives of the gathering included: to determine the extent and nature of involvement of industry in shaping all aspects of TVET, such as its policies, curriculum, and standard development, systems of teaching and training, and funding; to examine the benefits, challenges, strategies and initiatives of the APT in getting and improving industry participation; and to produce a document that will serve as reference for best practices in industry involvement.

During the meet, representatives of APT presented their best practices and programs in harnessing industry involvement in TVET implementation in in their respective nations.

Challenges seen in strengthening the participation of employers in TVET implementation include: financial support/incentives; difficulty in designing standard qualification models for different industries and skill levels; lack of information on the mechanism, policies and benefits for TVET; commitment and willingness of employers to directly participate in TVET; vague or unclear government-industry coordination; and, the lack of infrastructure for industry involvement.

TESDA Deputy Director General for Policies and Planning Rosanna Urdaneta, in her closing remarks, said that she expects the challenges and concerns that were expressed and shared during the conference by APT members will be addressed and transformed into opportunities to strengthen industry involvement in TVET delivery.

“As mentioned and discussed, the main purpose of this conference is to gather and share best practices, and identify the key factors which will be documented as a publication along with the desk research and online survey. TESDA shall be completing this document in the next few months and it will be shared to everyone to serve as reference in the development of our TVET programs,” Urdaneta added.