With all the multitude of opportunities in today’s day and age and with the advent of the digital era more and more students and people are considering alternative ways to earn a living aside from the usual linear career path of becoming professionals like being a doctor, lawyer or an engineer.
To those not really keen on this definition, here is what I have gathered online about it:
The Technical-Vocational (tech-voc) education is a kind of non-formal education in the Philippines. Through tech-voc courses, you can learn practical skills and knowledge that will prepare you for future employment. But unlike the four-year bachelor’s degree, you can finish a tech-voc course anywhere between six months to two years!
Technical-Vocational education is available in various fields such as skilled trades, computer technology, and office management. Tech-voc courses provide job-focused training for different careers. These programs give you a chance to earn certificates you can use for employment. There are many Philippine institutions that offer tech-voc courses. Some public schools even provide training to qualified students for free. Source: The Vision Board
Tech-voc graduates fill an important role in different industries in the country and overseas. And if our tech-voc graduates become job-ready and globally competitive, they could contribute a lot to the national income and economy. One industry that is in dire need of skills and various technical know-how is the service industry, which is very in demand and one of the most sought-after opportunities nowadays.
Progressive countries like Japan, Singapore, and Korea have made significant leaps in advancements in their educational system, focusing on academic excellence and technological innovation. These pieces of training teach their citizens to become productive, income-generating and eventually contributring to the national coffers. These countries believe in the strength of their manpower and their role in the national economy.
Tony Galvez, an expert in the technical and vocational education and training industry in the country once said: “Philippine TVET ang pag-asa para sa kinabukasan ng mamamayan at ng bayan, kung maayos at maganda ang programa.”
Noted for his strong advocacy of technical vocational professionalism for global competitiveness in the Philippines, Galvez also said: “Magagawa nating umangat at umasenso ang pamumuhay ng ating mahihirap na kababayan kung mabibigyan natin sila ng kahalagahan at maiaayos ang posisyon ng technical vocational education and training ng bansa. Hindi lang ang hangarin ay upang maging isang simpleng manggagawa. Kung hindi, tulungan natin silang linangin bilang mga tunay na eksperto sa iba’t-ibang larangan ng industriya upang ang lahat ay maging kapaki-pakinabang at mapabilang sa pandaigdigang kompetisyon na makapagpapalago ng ating ekonomiya.”
Now is the time to be more open-minded and put an end to the fairy tale misconception that a four-year course is the only avenue to attaining a decent lifestyle. The technical field is very, very wide, uncharted, and not yet competitive, which is a far cry from the competitive, dog-eat-dog corporate world.
In the Philippines, the two main agencies tasked with providing basic education in the country are DepEd, or Department of Education for the academics, and TESDA which stands for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, which is mandated to provide direction, policies, programs, and standards towards quality technical education and skills development.
These agencies should proactively collaborate to avoid overlapping roles and to come up with a more competent and comprehensive program for our tech- voc graduates.
More Autonomy for TESDA
For this initiative to be effective, TESDA should be given free rein by the Government in planning and implementing technical and vocational training.
They should also conduct an initial skills assessment per person to provide for a more personalized approach to training and not just stick to the cookie-cutter approach which has been going on for years and which might not work for some who have a different learning style.
Other than that, licensing exams and professional licenses should also be issued to successful candidates who have completed and satisfactorily passed the needed requirements, training, and skills assessment for these courses so that they could feel more pride in their work and their status can be elevated to that of a professional as well. Lastly, they can also command a higher salary or compensation once they have passed the licensure exam locally, same as with college graduate professionals who also have an edge after having passed the national licensure examinations.
To conclude, if our TVETs follow global standards and are just competitive with that our Asian neighbors, there will be fewer OFW’s because TVET graduates can establish their own businesses and can get better-paying jobs locally.
Good, high-paying jobs await qualified tech-voc grads. If only they’re given proper incentives, multisectoral support and a supportive policy environment, the tech-voc track can also be a viable alternative for young Filipinos who wish to lead productive lives.
We still have a long way ahead towards strengthening our tech-voc ecosystem in the country, but with consistent support from the government and academe, we are making crucial inroads that lay the foundation for the future.
As we promote tech-VOC to the youth to undergo tech-voc training, we hope that tech-voc professionalism and licensing will soon be implemented as well.
Hopefully, in the coming years the state of tech-voc education in the Philippines would further be improved so that when we ask Filipino children what they want to be when they grow up, we hope many of them will also answer that they would want to take the tech-voc path and become a carpenter, a forklift driver or a farming technician. And by then, these children would no longer be laughed at or looked down with the career choices they’ve made.