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Agencies told to coordinate labor market information system, invest more on enterprise-based training – EDCOM 2


The Second Congressional Committee on Education (EDCOM 2) emphasized the need for a harmonized labor market information system (LMIS) to address job-skills mismatch. 

“The labor force and the market demand is very dynamic. In fact, it changes very rapidly with the onset of technology and new skills. In our country we have free tuition fees for both tertiary education  and skills production”, says the Second Congressional Commission on Education Co-Chairperson Senator Win Gatchalian. 

“If we produce skills that will not be needed by the market today and in the future, then we are wasting government resources. It is imperative to have this mechanism to address the mismatch, and also be able to forecast what the market needs in the next few years”, Gatchalian continued. 

A labor market information system provides essential data and insights about labor market outcomes that inform a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, employers, job seekers, and educational institutions.

EDCOM 2 together with the Department of Education (DepEd), Committee on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),  the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), discussed existing labor market information systems and processes currently being utilized by the industry and education agencies. 

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) also presented its study which recommended inputs to the Skills Anticipation and Prioritization of Skills Requirements (SAPSR) Framework of TESDA, and also provided insights on how agencies should move forward in harmonizing LMIS. 

Fragmented implementation of LMIs

According to PIDS, while the country has good data sources relevant to initiatives on skills needs anticipation and several LMIs are in place, improvements must be made to ensure a relevant and sustainable framework on skills anticipation and prioritization of skills requirements. 

EDCOM 2 Commissioner Senator Win Gatchalian pointed out the lack of coordination among the different agencies conducting different job market analyses. “We have the DOLE market profile, TESDA’s LMI, PhilJob Net and PEIS, and the Philippine Skills Framework Initiative of DTI. There is no intersection between these information systems and implementing agencies. We are working in silos here,”  says the Senator. 

The Commission likewise articulated the need for a coordinated approach to implement the existing LMIs, and the involvement of the private sector and the academe in the LMI ecosystem. 

The hearing also touched on the need to address skills mismatch, which has far-reaching consequences and contributes to lower wages, reduced job satisfaction, decreased productivity, and heightened turnover rates across industries. 

“In the Philippines, skills mismatch has been a persistent issue since the 1970s when the higher education system produced more college graduates than the economy could absorb,” says Dr. Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy, principal investigator of the PIDS research

The recommendations of the study banks on the idea that the SAPSR is part of a system that involves the engagement of various players, and puts forward areas of collaboration to make LMIs and the SAPSR successful altogether. 

“The recommendations focus on the following areas: partnerships and institutional arrangements, skills taxonomy and skills-occupation mapping, use of PSOC (highly disaggregated if possible) in data collection and other skills and labor market initiatives (e.g., PhilJobNet, PESO-Information System, Philippine Skills Framework Initiative), training to harness emerging data sources and conduct qualitative and quantitative methods, dissemination initiatives, and support,” the report stated. 

Revitalized, turbo charged enterprise-based training

PIDS also presented its findings on the assessment of enterprise-based training (EBT) modality in the Philippines. Among the striking findings of the study include gaps in terms of definition, scope, and measure of EBT and the limited capacity of the implementers. 

Senator Gatchalian stressed out that even after decades of EBT implementation, the problem remains the same. 

“For me, it is unacceptable that even TESDA employees do not understand this. If your own employees don’t understand it, don’t expect that the companies will understand this. It’s their own responsibility to get to know the programs of TESDA. Employees of TESDA should also have the initiative to learn because this is a core program of TESDA,” says the Senator. 

He further urged TESDA to come up with an action plan that will address these gaps, and improve the knowledge of TESDA employees on EBT. 

“To address the seemingly lack of awareness within the TESDA, we conduct regular calibration with those handling the program or the  EBT focals so that we can help them out in being aware of the recent issuances relative to the implementation of the program. There have been movements also within those handling the programs, hence we need to do regular meetings with them to keep them aware and updated,” shared TESDA Partnerships and Linkages Office OIC Executive Director Floramel Songsong. 

The Commission also debated about strategies to effectively and efficiently implement EBT programs, including allocating funds to industry associations that can facilitate or take charge of these trainings, instead of the government. 

“TVET training is very industry specific, it is the industry that knows. We don’t like to second guess what should be done by the industry. Why don’t we just have a policy that can allocate some of the training funds for this industry based training. The principle of funding and letting the very strong industry association do the training is a very important one,” recommended PIDS President Dr. Aniceto Orbeta. 

Dr. Orbeta further pointed out the seemingly unstable financing  for TVET training that impacts how funds are managed effectively. “How much do we need to be training people to be cutting edge in terms of what we need as an economy? Dapat consistent yun. And we should try to determine paano yung management ng training funds na yun. Government has reasons for investing in training. We have a lot of money, we just have to shift it a little bit towards using more capable industry associations other than the government providing the training itself,” he added. 

While the budget allocated to TVET has grown overtime since free higher education started, the Commission raised  that a shift in paradigm is needed, investing more of government money in EBT as it increases employability and productivity.  “We all agree that EBT is more productive. I think budget wise we can study to really deliberately allocate a big chunk of the budget to EBT so that TESDA will be compelled to use that money. I’m more bullish with EBT, because they are trained and eventually they will be employed. They are trained by private sectors in skills that are actually needed,” says Senator Gatchalian. 

EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Sen Gatchalian strongly expressed investing more in EBT as evidence has shown how EBT drives employment and provides better pay.  “The Commission, the Advisory Council, the Congress- we want a turbo charged EBT, a revitalized, turbo charged EBT.  Not the government delivered, but private sector EBT,” adds Gatchalian. 

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