April 20, 2024

The private sector believes more measures still need to be implemented to make technical and vocational education and training (TVET) more responsive to the labor market’s requirements and more attractive among the youth, according to new research.

A study published this month by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said TVET plays a key role in producing a skilled labor force and providing a pathway for youth to be productively employed, but noted that several issues are besetting TVET’s responsiveness to the requirements of enterprises, especially those in the construction, manufacturing, and tourism sectors.

“To fulfill these roles, TVET must be responsive to the labor market’s requirements for skills and competencies in the workplace and be accessible to young learners from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said the paper entitled “Issues in Philippine TVET: Responsiveness to Industry Demand and Barriers to Access among Disadvantaged Youth.”

One of the issues raised by surveyed enterprises about the current TVET implementation is the difficulty in attracting students to participate in construction training programs due to the sector’s poor image.

“The low regard for TVET among young people and parents stems partly from aspirations for social mobility and perceptions (whether right or wrong) that occupations associated with vocational education are ‘dirty’, ‘low-paid’, and ‘menial’,” the report written by Aniceto Orbeta, Jr. and John Paul Corpus said.

Another issue found is the gaps in training quality, especially in public training institutions. Factors behind this include the small budget for capital outlays, which constrains schools’ ability to improve their training facilities and equipment, a limited number of trainers and facilitators, and a declining number of competency assessors due to difficulties in meeting industry work requirements.

The sparse participation of enterprises in training provision in the Philippines appears to be part of the problem as well. Enterprise-based programs account for a meager share of TVET enrollment, with most learners attending institution-based providers, said the paper.

Also a key concern is the underdeveloped soft skills of young employees. Some of the firms surveyed said that in addition to hard skills, training programs should teach soft skills, including communication skills, work attitude, and discipline.

The PIDS study found there are barriers that keep youth not in employment, education, or training from participating in vocational education.

Many respondents self-identified as poor and cited the lack of financial resources for education as the main hindrance to pursuing TVET, followed by the lack of information on training programs.

To address these issues and challenges, the study recommended using information campaigns and scholarships to attract learners to train for in-demand occupations, strengthening soft skills instruction, and incentivizing industry practitioners to join the TVET sector as trainees.

The paper also suggested promoting regular dialogue between the government, employers, workers, and TVET providers to help ensure that policies remain responsive to various sectors’ needs.

It is also important to encourage the greater participation of enterprises as training providers since enterprise-based training provides the best environment for students to acquire technical skills and the personal and social competencies needed in the workplace, said the report.

“The government, the education sector, and industry associations should work together to foster greater awareness of enterprise-based programs and forge partnerships between companies and training schools that can implement such programs,” it stated. – Press release