MANILA, Sept. 19 (PNA) -- The Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) says it will make do with less next year as the agency’s budget for its Training for Work Scholarship (TWSP) program was “trimmed” down to P700 million.

The proposed scholarship budget, according to TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva, is less than the P5.6 billion allocation in 2009, a fund that is under scrutiny by the new TESDA administration following reports that some of the grants went to “ghost scholars and fly-by-night training schools.”

But Villanueva said he is confident that even with the reduced funding for scholarship, they would be able to have more employable graduates of technical and vocational courses from the present 28 percent.

“We are targeting an absorption rate of our tech-voc graduates to 55 percent from the present 28 percent which many say is very dismal considering the huge amount allocated by the previous government,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said the P700 million is programmed for the scholarship and training of some 65,000 scholars in courses that would ensure their employability once they graduated.

He said these employment sectors that have consistently saw in increase in the demand for skilled workers are agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries such as visuals, animation and 2D and 3D graphics, manufacturing, mining, tourism and the construction sector.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) agreed to reduce the TWSP budget to P350 million because of the minimal absorption rate of scholars.

But Villanueva said Malacanang asked the DBM and the DOLE to grant the same budget at the fiscal year 2010 level of P700 million provided that the agency address the dismal absorption rate for scholars.

The TESDA chief said among the measures they are looking to boost the employability of tech-voc graduates is the re-designing of the TWSP implementation guidelines in order to strengthen their scholar selection, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) provider accreditation, reporting, monitoring and evaluation.

Likewise, the agency would also implement a grass-roots program to reach out to more scholars as well as strengthen the Seek-Find-Train-Certify and Employ operational cycle as applied to each and every TWSP beneficiary.

“On the short and immediate term, we will have to at least double the absorption level of TWSP graduates. In the long term, we will endeavour to place our TWSP graduates in the appropriate quality and wage level jobs corresponding to the TVET competency-level they were trained and certified for,” the TESDA chief explained.

“We will aim to reach the grassroots, and empower those already reached. We will assure quality TVET training and lifelong education to develop and enable all TVET learners with job opportunities thru employability enhancement and provision of technical skills,” he added. (PNA)