Press Release
February 13, 2017

Sen. Villanueva's sponsorship speech on bill declaring August 25th as National Tech-Voc Day

Mr. President, I stand before you to sponsor Senate Bill No. 209 or "An Act Declaring the Twenty-Fifth Day of August of Every Year as the National Tech-Voc Day" with the belief that if we pay increased attention to tech-voc as a nation, we can harness its power in creating jobs, increasing our workers' productivity, securing the future of our industries, and achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Tech-voc is not only an important pillar in the country's human resources development, but it is also crucial to the fulfillment of the basic rights to education and to work. The International Labor Organization in its 2015 recommendation concerning technical and vocational education and training (TVET), stated that "tech-voc is understood as being part of both the universal right to education and the right to work".

Hindi po hiwalay sa karapatang makapag-aral at makapag-trabaho ang tech-voc bagkus, kasama o kaakibat ito.

Tech-voc encompasses training and education, jobs, and lifelong learning. According to ILO, "tech-voc is understood as comprising education, training and skills development relating to a wide range of occupational fields, production, services and livelihoods...As part of lifelong includes work-based learning and continuing training and professional development which may lead to qualifications. Tech-voc also includes a wide range of skills development opportunities attuned to national and local contexts."

Pwede nga pong ihalintulad ang tech-voc sa isang "swiss army knife" - magagamit saanman o kailanman dahil ito ay mabilis, matipid pero masinsin at angkop sa pangangailangan ng mga industriya.

Mr. President, tech-voc is a veritable instrument for poverty reduction because it is shorter in duration, rapid, cost-effective, flexible, and jobs-oriented. This is what businesses and entrepreneurs need right now.

Bakit po itinutulak ng Committee on Labor ang panukalang ito?

Mr. President, in many parts of the globe, tech-voc is set as a national and regional priority:

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD, "a highly skilled labour force is increasingly important for economies to remain competitive and achieve sustainable growth. Effective skills strategies can play a significant role in helping national economies to adjust to changes in working practices, advances in technology, and challenges associated with globalisation."

For its part, the Asian Development Bank or ADB stressed that "the evolution of skills development for employability, or tech-voc, has become the cornerstone of policy priorities of many countries in Asia."

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO made clear that "external demands on tech-voc systems go far beyond the familiar call for tech-voc to contribute to economic growth, employment and competitiveness. Today, tech-voc is considered to be a crucial vehicle for social equity and inclusion, as well as for the sustainability of development."

In 2010, the World Bank issued a report prefaced by the statement, "Skills, and skills development, are an essential component of all efforts in creating jobs, increasing productivity especially for developing countries that are seeking to grow in an inclusive way and reducing poverty."

Undeniably, the special recognition given to tech-voc by these international organizations attests that prioritization of tech-voc is a global trend, it is an integral component of the ASEAN integration, it is an important pillar of the country's overall human resources development strategy.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, tech-voc is still regarded as "second rate" and perceived to be suited only for the poor or less intelligent individuals. Your committee believes that this negative perception about tech-voc will change through the observance of a National Tech-Voc Day.

Let me cite some accomplishments in the tech-voc sector from 2010 up to now, under the Duterte administration:

For the past seven years, over 13 million Filipinos graduated in various tech-voc courses, majority of them or 65% found employment locally and abroad. Of course, this is considering that some of the trainees took multiple courses which opened up a lot of opportunities for them in terms of employment and livelihood. Our scholars even registered an employment rate of 70% and has even reached 96.4% in specific sectors like the semi-conductor and electronics industry.

Tech-Voc Enrolment and Graduates, 2010-2016

Indicators 2010-2016
Number of Enrollees 13,473,550
Number of Graduates 12,110,210

 Source: TESDA Corporate Planning Office

The numbers prove that since the creation of TESDA on August 25, 1994, as part of the EDCOM recommendations, the tech-voc sector in the Philippines provided opportunities to our kababayans who have the willingness to devote their time and energy improving their lot in life. Through an effective information campaign, expansion of scholarship programs at the barangay level, private sector engagement, quality-assured systems, together with the implementation of the Philippine Qualifications Framework or PQF, more Filipinos will change their outlook about tech-voc. Ang observance ng National Tech-Voc Day ay magiging daan para iangat ang dignidad ng mga blue-collar workers tulad ng mga kapwa ko barista at mga bartenders, plumbers, carpenters, welders, household workers, drivers, cooks, dressmakers, graphic designers, call center agents, at iba pa. Nakakalungkot lang na hanggang ngayon, second-rate pa rin ang katayuan nila sa ating lipunan.

Mr. President, it is possible to change this perception because more and more Filipinos see that blue-collar jobs offer some real advantages, there are jobs available for tech-voc graduates and oftentimes the pay is even greater than white collar work.

Mr. President, your committee believes that highlighting the importance of tech-voc can help us face challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and widen the prospects of tech-voc system in the Philippines.

What are these challenges and opportunities?

The first challenge is economic disparities in the country. In the 2016 competitiveness rankings of provinces, Rizal got the highest index of 35.7 while Capiz got only 6.2, the lowest among 74 provinces. We can adjust the scope and means of delivery of tech-voc as a means to confront economic challenges in various parts of the country.

Through tech-voc, we can also take advantage of the growing market and exciting production possibilities in different parts of the country, especially in Mindanao. Our young population makes our country attractive to Foreign Direct Investments. In fact, Mr. President, the Philippines is now among the top 15 preferred investment destinations of multinational enterprises in the next three years, according to the latest World Investment Report 2016 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Based on studies, tech-voc can also address the skills needs of micro and small enterprises and new and emerging industries, especially renewable energy and green industries.

The second challenge is the shortage of workers for high-technology qualifications. We believe that the supply of high-technology workers is one of the key factors for doing business in the Philippines.

Mr. President, there should be an extensive promotion of tech-voc to ensure that our workers will get the necessary skills demanded by the labor market. If more Filipinos go to tech-voc, we can also encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and promote the use of English language and ICT. Tech-voc training will ensure movement to high labor productivity.

In relation to this, Mr. President, I filed the "TULONG-TRABAHO BILL" to ensure the productivity of our workers and to assist our industries in providing competency enhancement to existing workers through a Tulong-Trabaho Fund.

The Committee on Labor is also set to hear the "APPRENTICESHIP REFORM BILL" this week. The bill aims to increase productivity and competitiveness of enterprises by ensuring supply of skilled human resource through work-based learning.

The third challenge is the low enrolment in tech-voc programs especially in hard-to-fill occupations. Hence, we should continue our consultation with the industries to face challenges related to the relevance of curricula, poor-quality instruction and infrastructure and the absence of certification frameworks that meet the standards of employers.

Mr. President, innovative approaches, especially work-based learning and mobile and online training, can boost participation in tech-voc programs, especially in the TVET track in our senior high schools.

Finally, Mr. President, the country has several laws recognizing various professions and fields of specialization by declaring a certain day, week or month of the year for them. I personally believe that tech-voc workers also deserve our attention by declaring August 25, the founding anniversary of TESDA, as the National Tech-Voc Day in the Philippines.

For example, Proclamation No. 1789 declared September 27 as the National Physicians' Day, Proclamation No. 1365 declared the third week of September as Chemical Engineering Week and Proclamation No. 1972 declared the month of May as Guidance Month to focus attention on the important role played by guidance counselors and personnel workers in the development of human potentials in the country.

In 2015, Republic Act 10753 declared the fifth of October as the National Teachers' Day.

A National Tech-Voc Day, a special working holiday, can boost the confidence of our workers to face the world of work.

Mr. President, my dear colleagues, it is very clear to us that tech-voc plays a key role in realizing both universal right to education and to work, people-oriented and socially responsible community, and the full potential to deliver more and better jobs. But, as I've mentioned, many challenges persist if the "tech-voc lang" mentality remains.

Through the promotion of tech-voc and adequate government and private sector support, we can create more jobs, increase the productivity of our workers, secure the future of our industries and achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Hindi ko po sinasabing kulang sa pansin ang tech-voc, siguro'y dagdag na pagtingin sa mas maraming bilang ng mga Pilipinong nagpapagulong ng ating ekonomiya.

Let us pass Senate Bill No. 209 and hopefully, we can use the celebration of the first National Tech-Voc Day on August 25, 2017 to hasten our progress in stepping up skills in the country.

Maraming salamat Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, thank you for your support.

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