Press Release
May 3, 2017


Belief in the transformative power of tech-voc

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Mr. President, I have the honor to sponsor Committee Report No. 59 containing Senate Bill No. 1431, "An Act Instituting a Philippine Labor Force Competencies Competitiveness Program, Establishing Free Access to Technical and Vocational Training Programs and for Other Purposes or the "Tulong-Trabaho Act of 2017".

Let me tell you a story. Back in 2012, I asked my staff at TESDA to organize a nationwide "Blogging Contest".

For the blogging theme, we chose: "SA TESDA, MAY CHOICE KA."

Our goal: spread the idea that tech-voc graduates can have a better chance in finding jobs while addressing job-skills mismatch. And for just two weeks, we received around fifty blog entries which emphasized that tech-voc is the way to go.

One of the blog entries that enlightened and motivated me came from the blog site "Chellelandia".

The blogger shared the success story of Leo Enriquez and Eugene Tero, tech-voc graduates from Dumaguete City. They left the Philippines in mid-2011 as OFWs to work in a meat processing company in Australia as butchers. Each of them receives a jaw-dropping salary equivalent to about P180,000 monthly for a four-year contract!

The blogger narrated Leo and Eugene' struggles before getting to TESDA. Leo's work in Australia was a long way from his drug addiction days and the painful years of trying to make ends meet for Eugene whose parents abandoned him and his sister, a child with special needs.

The blogger also described how TESDA brought the two men together when they enrolled in a slaughtering course through TESDA's Training for Work Scholarship Program or TWSP. The course trained them on the standard slaughtering procedures of livestock, such as flaying, brisket cutting, and evisceration.

After their graduation, Eugene and Leo honed their slaughtering skills at the Dumaguete City Slaughterhouse. To increase their chances of finding work abroad, they uploaded videos demonstrating their skills on Youtube. These youtube posts helped them land their dream job in Australia.

This blog entry won the "Most Creative Blog Award".

Our blogging contest proved that the idea, "TECH-VOC IS THE WAY TO GO", was worth spreading. Eventually, that idea turned into actual enrollees, graduates and more Filipinos whose lives were transformed because of tech-voc.

After a year, I was informed by my staff that Leo and Eugene have already brought their families to Australia and living a more comfortable life.

We followed-up this story and what we found out surprised us: a number of workers from Dumaguete followed the footsteps of Eugene and Leo - they enrolled at TESDA, spent their OJT in slaughterhouses, uploaded their butchering-skills-demo videos to youtube and got hired in Australia.

Their videos, which are still accessible via youtube, have more than 15,000 views as of today.

Noong pinapanood ko ang mga youtube videos ng mga certified butchers mula sa Dumaguete, napaisip ako: "Paano kung hindi nakarating ang TWSP vouchers sa kanila? Makakatapos kaya sila ng slaughtering o butchering course? Makakarating kaya sila sa Australia at makakakuha ng magandang trabaho at malaking sweldo?"

The need for SBN 1431 and its Rationale

Mr. President, there is a need to expand the allocation for TWSP and other TESDA programs to ensure that there will be more butchers like Leo and Eugene, and other tech-voc graduates like drivers, cooks, baristas, graphic designers, welders, machine operators, etc. who can land good jobs out of tech-voc training and attain a better future.

This is the heart of our proposed Senate Bill 1431: increase the allocation for tech-voc training through a "Tulong-Trabaho Fund".

Mr. President, this Tulong-Trabaho Fund will be included in the General Appropriations Act and will be managed and decided on by the Tulong-Trabaho Board composed of the TESDA Board and other stakeholders.

We believe that this measure will further democratize access to select tech-voc programs, ensure higher standards in our training systems and strengthen our certification frameworks.

Mr. President, among TESDA scholarship programs, only the Private Education Student Financial Assistance or PESFA is fixed by law. It has an allocation of Php 200 million pesos annually.

On the other hand, the TWSP receives an allocation from the General Appropriations Act (GAA). In the TESDA Roadmap, the agency targeted an annual increase of 10% for TWSP. In 2016, it received a funding of 2.2-billion pesos but for this year, 2017, it has been retained at 2.2 billion pesos despite the increasing demand for tech-voc courses and the imperative for productivity enhancement and skills upgrading of existing workers.

Furthermore, TESDA scholarships represented only around 13% of the total TVET outputs in all delivery modes.

Mr. President, sadya pong kulang at pabago-bago ang lebel ng alokasyon samantalang patuloy sa pagtaas ang bilang ng mga mag-aaral na kumukuha ng tech-voc courses. Patuloy ring lumalawak ang mga negosyong nangangailangan ng mga manggagawang patuloy na nagpapaunlad ng kanilang kaalaman bunga ng mabilis na pagbabago ng teknolohiya at mga inobasyon sa mga pook-gawaan.

Salient Provisions of SBN 1431

Mr. President, your committee believes that increasing the allocation for TESDA scholarship programs through a "Tulong-Trabaho Fund" will lead to higher TVET outputs and greater productivity of existing workers.

This belief is supported by TESDA's track record in providing training and employment to our people in the past years, especially when the TWSP received additional allocations:

From 1.6-million enrolees in 2010, the number of enrollees rose to 45% in 2015 at 2.3-million. The employment rate of tech-voc graduates also posted a significant improvement, from 48.5% in 2005 to 65.4% in 2014.

Consistent with the UniFAST Act of 2015, the "Tulong-Trabaho Fund" will pave the way for a free tech-voc especially for young people who are not in education, employment and training and for productivity enhancement of existing workers for them to step up the career ladder and to complement technological change in the workplace.

We also propose a "Philippine Labor Force Competencies Competitiveness Program" which will be established based on our Labor Market Intelligence Reports. Hence, the measure also guarantees industry participation and incentives and engagement of local governments.

The bill will also set-up a performance-based financing. Our schools and training centers must ensure that at least 70% of the Tulong-Trabaho Fund beneficiaries will be certified after the training program.

Transparency in the Fund's utilization is also guaranteed through a registry of training providers that will be made accessible to the public through the internet.

Pass the proposed Tulong-Trabaho Act

Noong Lunes, Labor Day, isa po sa mga isyung binigyang-pansin natin ay ang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga Pilipinong walang trabaho. Kalahati sa kanila ay mga kabataan, edad 18-24.

Nakakabagabag po ang mga datos:

Isa sa bawat apat na kabataan ay sinasabing Not in Education, Employment and Training (NEET) habang walumpu't siyam na porsiyento (89%) ng mga kabataang kumikita na ay nananatili sa mga mabababang klase ng trabaho o low-skilled at manual at operating machinery occupations.

Kaugnay nito, sa panibagong survey ng SWS na inilabas ngayong Mayo, mahigit sampung milyong Pilipino (10.4M) ang jobless samantalang bumaba rin ang optimism rate tungkol sa kalagayan ng trabaho sa bansa.

Gusto po nating baguhin ang sitwasyong ito upang magkaroon ng dahilang maging lalong positibo ang mga Pilipino na may trabaho silang makukuha dito sa ating bayan at patuloy na mangarap para sa magandang kinabukasan.

Layunin din ng "Tulong-Trabaho Act" na solusyunan ang job-skills mismatch at bigyan ng disente at permanenteng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan.

Ibabahagi ko lang po na dalawa sa mga first time jobseekers na nabalitaan ko sa mga job fairs natin noon ay sina Reynald at Carol. Hindi ko makalimutan ang kwento nila. Lumuwas ng Maynila. Nagbakasakali sa mga jobs fair ng DOLE. Nakakuha naman ng trabaho subalit may pag-a-alinlangan:

Si Reynald Vince Brillante, natanggap on-the-spot bilang salesman sa Saudi Arabia. Kahit hindi niya gustong mag-abroad, pinatos na niya ang nakuhang trabaho. Sabi n'ya: "Mas gusto ko na sa Saudi, kasi ang kontrata abroad, two years, sa Pilipinas, limang buwan lang."

Si Carol Magayanes naman po na taga-Bicol, napilitan din sa nakuhang trabaho. Sabi niya, "Okay lang sa akin na hindi tugma ang tinapos kong kurso sa makukuha kong trabaho, ang mahalaga makapasok ako para may income na rin, at makatulong sa pamilya."

Mr. President, kung may sapat na pondo para sa tech-voc training, hindi po mag-aalinlangan ang mga kabataang humanap ng disenteng trabaho na malapit sa kanilang pamilya at naaayon sa kanilang kasanayan.

Mr. President, your Committee believes that the passage of this bill will make tech-voc accesible to all, boost our workers' confidence to face the world of work and ensure that the youth who are ready to work hard are provided with the right skill sets to obtain in-demand jobs.

More importantly, this bill is our response to the dramatic changes in the nature of jobs and to continue to enable knowledge to flow to lagging industries and sectors. Marapat lamang na dagdagan natin ang programang pang-tech-voc sa pamamagitan ng Tulong-Trabaho Fund. Isakatuparan natin ang libreng tech-voc para sa lahat.

Ipasa natin ang Senate Bill No. 1431: ang pondo para sa paglikha ng trabaho, ang pondo ng manggagawang pilipino.

Maraming salamat po Mr. President, distinguished colleagues. And may God bless us all.

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