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Despite high employment rate, TESDA grads earn below minimum wage


EDCOM 2 Commissioner Senator Joel Villanueva noticed that, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) touts that 8 out of 10 TESDA graduates are employed, most of them earn below minimum wage. 

“If this trend will continue to go on, we’re only allowing them to land jobs below minimum wage and there’s no way that we can help them to get out of poverty”, Villanueva said during the hearing of the Senate committee on finance on TESDA’s proposed 2024 budget this afternoon. 

Based on the Study on Employment of TVET Graduates (SETG) for 2021 analyzed by EDCOM 2, data shows that most TVET graduates earn lower than the average minimum wage, except for those completing NC 3 and NC 4. According to the National Technical Education and Skills Development Plan (NTESDP) 2018 to 2022, TVET graduates earned only P10,000 per month on average in 2010 to 2014. 

EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Senator Sherwin Gatchalian backed Villanueva, noting that, in consultations with TESDA, the agency often lauds the 80% employment rate of its graduates. “We gave them NC 1, NC 2, they wasted their time going to TESDA, [attending Senior High School], but the jobs that they are landing are below minimum wage. So that’s not commensurate to the time they spent….not only their time, but also their money. And yet, they cannot even reap the rewards or get the returns of that investment”, Gatchalian said. 

“I think that is a very important point that TESDA needs to address. I know it’s a big challenge, but we need to address that. Eight out of 10 employment—we should not be happy with that. But with eight out of ten who are employed and earning above minimum wage, then we will be very happy to see that , he continued. 

EDCOM 2 bats for better assessment, certification

Gatchalian also flagged the low assessment rate of TESDA graduates. According to the TESDA National Technical Education and Skills Development Plan (NTESDP) 2018-2022, there were a total of 907,244 students who were assessed out of 1,231,284 graduates of TESDA programs. 

Officials of the agency explained that there are a number of programs where there are no training regulations (TRs) yet. TRs are required to create competency assessment tools for a particular program. The programs were allowed, even without TRs because they are in-demand, officials from TESDA noted. 

Villanueva and Gatchalian also questioned why the targets of the agency with regards to the percentage of TVET graduates that undergo assessment for certification is steadily decreasing, when the goal must be to increase the number of graduates that are assessed and certified. Under the 2024 National Expenditure Plan (NEP), the baseline of TESDA is 80%. However, the 2023 target is 70%, and the 2024 target is 60%. 

In previous meetings, the Commission also pushed for the assessment and certification of senior high school students who are under the technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) track. EDCOM 2 analysis shows that, to cover the assessment and certification of SHS-TVL students, about P1 billion would be needed in the 2024 budget.

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