Toward producing globally competitive Pinoy tech-voc professionals

WITH the advent of technology and globalization, no one remains just a citizen of their own country. They become a citizen of the world—a global citizen—transcending color, creed and culture.

The labor market in the 21st century is in need of global skilled workers who are products of technical-vocational education and training (TVET), trained to become skilled professionals, equipped with practical and soft skills, backed up with professional subjects, and are licensed to perform their duty.

Progressive countries are known to excel in the technical- vocational (techvoc) industry. For one, Singapore makes headlines for always introducing new methods, new ideas, and new products. Japan constantly introduces something new, and is always No. 1 in technology innovation.

Unfortunately, much has to be desired in the Philippines’s tech-voc industry where graduates are looked down as second-class citizens, and whose products and services are questioned for their quality and efficacy.

This is so because the public perception has not been kind to TVET in the Philippines.

Antonio Matias Galvez, popularly known as Tony Galvez, is a tech-voc guru and an expert in the tech-voc education and training industry in the country with years of tech-voc practice, exposures and experiences. Galvez owns the Tony Galvez School of Cosmetology and is the current President of Tevsaphil-Quezon City.

“Public perception has not been kind to TVET service-oriented professional occupations. Many hold an unfounded perception that those who engage in technical and vocational occupations are academically inept to handle real college academic work. This has been aggravated by unfair categorization that a student taking a baccalaureate degree is intelligently superior, while a student of a vocational course is academically deficient. As such, many families endeavor to send their children to take college degree courses, despite the financial quagmire they are in, only to be disappointed later as their children cannot be employed in jobs that are related to their respective courses, or put it otherwise, job mismatch,” Galvez said.

A workshop held at the University of the Philippines in June 2017 showed techvoc in the Philippines has a bad image: It is outdated or baduy and has no prestige. It does not offer professional status, job security and recogtnition. Attended by students and their parents/guardians, educators and the business sector, the Integrated Communication Planning Workshop in Support of Techvoc and Training concluded that techvoc in the country needs a complete overhaul.

Having been in the industry all his life, Galvez said the time to uplift techvoc is now. He called for a revolution in tech-voc education and training in the Philippines during the regional consultation on the Impact of Philippine Qualifications Framework held recently in Cebu City.

“Innovation in tech-voc education and training program and curriculum is a must. It’s time to make a change for a better tech-voc education in our country. It’s time to put our TVET qualifications high. Let us set the standard. If Singapore and Japan did it, we can also do it. This is the Philippines and Filipinos have always been a winner by heart. We can even make the Philippines become the center of tech-voc education in Asia,” he said.

Galvez’s first proposal is for the classification of TVET track programs into either livelihood tracks  and professional tracks, which will allow proper regulations for both tracks.

TVET Livelihood Tracks are product-oriented, such as, a particular skill of making decorative objects by hand. It is also system of production which takes place in private homes rather than in a factory, with the tools and other means of production.

TVET Professional Tracks are service-oriented professions. Its entry requirement is high school graduate. The proper exercise of tech-voc professional tracks will be to the best interest of the public to ensure the protection of the people’s health, safety and welfare.

His second proposal is the professionalization of TVET service oriented courses

Unfortunately, the tech-voc professional tracks have remained unregulated and have not been recognized as regular professions in the Philippines.

The tech-voc profession is not just a simple trade. It involves public interest, a vehicle for identifying competent practitioners by screening out the incompetent through a governing code of ethical standards.

Galvez said there is nothing wrong with providing short-term TVET service oriented professional tracks’ programs. For these courses address head-on the pressing concern of putting food on the table

However, short-term and quick-fix solutions have short-lived existence, thereby, putting sustainability into serious question. With sustainability lacking, it is tantamount to not fully recouping the social or even economic return on government investment.

“We, tech-voc practitioners, may be partners of the government in reaching out to the masses, to barangays and even to far flung areas by teaching them skills for livelihood but it doesn’t mean we don’t need to improve and become world class,” he said.

TVET needs equal footing in terms of education and training of the technical and vocational graduates—who in the future can teach and be employed as consultants. There are a lot of opportunities for those who persevere in the right education and training. Let us make every opportunity to make our citizen professional because they will eventually boost the economy of our country.

With this, the Philippines can Pilot Development of Diploma Courses Based on the PQF and Ladderized Education on TVET service-oriented sectors/industries such as the following: Housekeeping, Culinary Arts, Emergency Medical Services, Cosmetology, Construction Services, Automotive, Electronics, Tourism, Information Technology, Health Care Services, Executive Assistantship and Security Services Program Law.

Carrying this out would entail a creation of a regulatory board. Experts will seat as a consultant and a regulatory body of each industry that will police, and mandate the training regulations and assessment methods.

“The TVET industry board shall regulate graduates to ensure highly competitive tech-voc practitioners. It is necessary, so that we cannot be left behind in the race for economic growth in introducing new methods, new ideas, new products and more productive life that will encourage technology creation, invention and innovation. “Let us make record in techvoc excellence, both products and services. Let us adopt a higher TVET qualifications.”

There is an imminent need to create an industry board for different tech-voc occupations/professions and to be mandated to conduct licensure examination for tech-voc graduates and practitioners.

  • To set and maintain professional standards on particular skills that require mastery and expertise before being practiced;
  • To enhance the professionalism and integrity of skilled workers by regulating practitioners and penalizing acts of malpractice;
  • To resolve the image concern of the tech-voc profession resulting to enticing more Filipinos to take the path for their future careers thus addressing the labor market mismatch;
  • To persuade technical and vocational schools improve their curriculum (the heart of education), faculties (the mentors), facilities (the battleground), and course hour (the units).

“As there will be an Industry Regulatory Body for tech-voc occupations, tech-voc practitioners can be easily recognized anywhere in the world.  With an active and dynamic licensing system of technical occupations, it is now easier for any industry to link with international accrediting organizations. Also, the government will stand to gain from the licensing fees collected from technical and vocational practitioners,” Galvez said.

And of course, he added, when the government invests in a sustainable program such as technical and vocational programs where a vast number of technically inclined and proficient Filipinos are benefited, the social and economic returns will run exponentially. Indeed, the economic permutations are enormous when it comes to the tech-voc industry. It would spell jobs and more jobs.

“Let us make the tech-voc occupation a globally recognized profession, by producing  globally competitive graduates not just Asean, but a globally recognized TVET qualifications and standards,” Galvez said.

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