MANILA—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have recently allowed more Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Qualifications trainings and assessments to be conducted in areas placed under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ), following the issuance of Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-06 released on 09 December 2020.  

According to the two agencies, the JMC is in an effort to help reskill and upskill Filipino workers and to address the massive lay-offs brought about by the closure of several businesses due to the pandemic. 

“With our continued efforts to reopen more sectors, there is a need for more skilled workers certified by TESDA. The government, through agencies such as DTI and TESDA, is committed to ensuring that our fellow Filipinos are equipped with the needed competencies to adjust to this ‘New Normal’,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said. 

“I am thankful to DTI for granting our request to open more programs for our kababayans. We really wanted to offer more training opportunities for our people, especially those who were displaced from their jobs, including our repatriated OFWs.  Even with the ongoing pandemic, with the right skills, there is a possibility for new employment and livelihood,” TESDA Sec. Lapeña added. 

In April, the unemployment rate hit a record 17.7%, translating to 7.3 million Filipinos but has since eased to 8.7% or 3.8 million workers in October. Meanwhile, in the latest impact assessment of COVID-19 on the micro, small, medium enterprises (MSME) conducted by DTI last September, only 5% of businesses remain closed from 35% in June. 

TESDA Sec. Lapeña emphasized that the JMC is part of the agency’s mandate in fulfilling the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Durterte to develop programs that will help repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with new skills to find employment opportunities in the country. Likewise, the allowing of more face-to-face trainings and competency assessments is also targeted at assisting outbound OFWs who are looking for opportunities abroad. 

The JMC identified six priority TVET qualifications that are allowed to conduct face-to-face trainings, namely: (1) construction; (2) construction-related, including electrical  

installation and maintenance, flux cored arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, gas welding, and shielded metal arc welding; (3) electrical and electronics, such as computer systems servicing and solar-powered lighting & mobile phone charging kit; (4) garments and textiles, including dressmaking, face mask making, and tailoring; (5) land transportation, particularly driving; and (6) health. 

Meanwhile, face-to-face competency assessments for the following sectors can be conducted: (1) automotive; (2) electrical and electronics; (3) furniture and fixtures; (4) heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration; (5) garments and textiles; (6) construction; (7) health, social and other community development services; (8) information and communication technology; (9) land transportation; (10) language and culture; (11) maritime; (12) metals and engineering; (13) visual arts; (14) tourism (hotel and restaurant); (15) TVET; and, (16) wholesale and retail trading. 

The Circular emphasized, however, that face-to-face trainings and competency assessments are only allowed subject to the strict implementation of the minimum health protocols or the Seven Commandments, namely: (1) wearing of proper face masks; (2) wearing of face shields; (3) no talking and eating (in public transportation and similar settings like confined areas and crowded places); (4) adequate ventilation (use of exhaust systems, air purifiers or keeping windows partially open); (5) frequent and proper disinfection; (6) symptomatic or COVID-19 positives must be isolated; and (7) appropriate physical distancing. 

Additionally, the JMC stressed that training participants and candidates for assessments per schedule shall not be more than 50% of the venue capacity. 

“We encourage our kababayans to get in touch with the nearest TESDA office so they can apply immediately for the training of their choice. They may also apply via our website or the TESDA mobile app for easier access. Our training and assessment programs are for free. Please take this opportunity to be among the pool of our country’s skilled workers,” TESDA Sec. Lapeña said. 

“This unified effort of DTI and TESDA is aimed at increasing the competitiveness of our fellow Filipinos to provide them more employment opportunities and increased income so that they may succeed in the post-pandemic future,” Trade Sec. Lopez added. ♦

Date of Release: 14 December 2020