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Gov’t agencies, private sector join force to upskill PH workers through Philippine Skills Framework

By DTI-TPG-Philippine Trade Training Center
June 28, 2021

PASAY CITY – When the nation develops its people, the people develop its nation.

This was highlighted by government agencies and the private sector during the launch and the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding of the first Philippine Skills Framework (PSF) Initiative on Friday (25 June 2021), a part of the country’s inclusive innovation strategy that targets to equip Filipino workforce with skills mastery and lifelong learning.

Seeing the need to create a framework to upskill, reskill, and prepare the country’s human capital to increase their competitiveness, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Trade Training Center - Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) convened nine other government agencies to forge partnership for the Philippine Skills Framework.

Among the government agencies that participated in the PSF are Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Tourism (DOT), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

As the government recognizes the importance of a “whole-of-society” approach to realize this endeavor, they have enjoined industry associations and learning and development institutions in shaping the said framework.

The Philippine Skills Framework builds upon the continuing partnership among national government agencies. It is a product of the memorandum of understanding that DTI and TESDA forged with SkillsFuture Singapore in 2019, during the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Singapore developed industry transformation maps which provided insights in the impact of technology and jobs, career pathways, skills required for various occupations and reskilling options. Adopting the approach of Singapore, the Philippines is focusing on skills and developing a skills framework for specific industries as part of its Industry 4.0 strategy.

“This is indeed a momentous event as we see an MOU signed in 2019 between the Philippines, represented by the DTI and TESDA, and Singapore, represented by Skills Future Singapore, now seeing tangible results – eleven government agencies in the Philippines, coming together to forge partnership in the development of the Philippines Skills Framework for various sectors witnessed by the our Singapore Institutional partners,” PTTC-GMEA Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera said.

Upskilling needed to innovate Filipino Workforce

In his message of support, Senator Joel Villanueva, who also chairs the Committee on Higher and Technical & Vocational Education said that the launch of the Philippine Skills Framework gives guidance to Filipino workers to the country’s priority sectors.

“With the launching of Philippine Skills Framework Initiative today, we are not only expressing or codifying our belief about the value of skills mastery and lifelong learning. We are also taking the lead for Filipinos, especially the youth, to follow. By guiding them to the country’s priority sectors and in-demand occupation and skills, they, too, can take action to make their career choices work for them,” he said.

“The future of work is already here, even before the pandemic. The COVID-19 only served as an accelerant of trends already well underway, especially in digital technology, artificial intelligence, and even in robotics. Now more than ever, we should help Filipinos navigate their way to success and take advantage of opportunities that lie ahead,” Senator Villanueva added.

For his part, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez emphasized that the need to reskill the country’s human capital remains a significant part of the plan to produce a future-ready workforce.

“As we continue with our efforts to grow and develop competitive and innovative Filipino enterprises, the need to reskill and upgrade the skills of our human capital and workforce remains a crucial part of our plans. This is essential so that our industries can increase and sustain their competitiveness under the 4IR and move us closer to our goal of becoming an industrialized nation,” he said.

“We aim to achieve better employment opportunities that will provide them with higher income. Skills development is a key pillar of our Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy or I3S. This involves the implementation of enhancements of our country’s formal education curriculum and improvements in our technical and vocational education training, and refinements in our higher education system, Lopez added.

PSF’s whole-of-society approach in tune with PRRD’s mandate

In his speech, Secretary Lopez reiterated President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s mandate to involve the whole country – from the government to its citizens – in matters of national importance.

“This also requires the active involvement and support of stakeholders from industry and private sectors to inform and provide the government the need and advice of what the market demands from our workers and potential employees. As such, more than a whole of government, this needs a whole-of-society approach to ensure its success. As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte once said during his inaugural address, anything of national importance [and] significance needs cooperation and support of people,” he said.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Secretary Isidro Lapena also emphasized that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signifies the whole society’s commitment to develop the country’s human resources.

“This Memorandum of Understanding seals our partnership for a whole-of-society participation for human resource development and competitiveness. Through this memorandum of understanding, we signify one commitment: to coordinate and collaborate towards the development of sectors that will guide them in enhancing their skills for a particular job role,” he said.

PSF a long-term solution to evolving workforce demands

For her part, DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Innovation Group Rafaelita Aldaba said that the Philippine Skills Framework will help workers be prepared for the future of work.

“The work of the government is crucial in managing the transition process and ensuring that training and skills development is provided to prepare the workforce for the jobs of the future. While past generations of talent could expect linear career progression, the workforce of the future will be required to rapidly learn and relearn new skills as reskilling, upskilling and redeployment define the new normal in the future of work,” she said.

Secretary Lapena also believed that PSF is a long-term solution as the country enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“In the long run, we saw how this will benefit Filipinos to raise the standard of our human resources and be better prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he noted.

Singapore’s commitment to the Philippines

While the country is well-prepared to implement the Philippine Skills Framework, Singapore’s Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Ho committed to help in the implementation of the PSF.

“The launch of the PSF is a timely and crucial step towards strengthening the Filipino workforce's ability to respond and to adapt to the digital economy in a post-pandemic world. As Singapore is a close friend, we will continue to assist in the implementation of the PSF, not only through the government channels, but also, hopefully, with more collaboration in the private sector,” he said.

The Ambassador also thought that the PSF will entice more Singapore-based businesses to invest in the country, as its workforce will be future-ready.

“The PSF will strengthen the case for more Singapore-based businesses to create a greater economic footprint in the Philippines,” he noted.

PTTC Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera added that the Philippines - Singapore partnership went beyond the creation of the PSF.

“This partnership actually worked beyond the Philippine Skills Framework, but we also got to understand the nuances and the challenges confronting the two countries in the implementation of the Skills Framework,” she said.

Supply Chain and Logistics Sector first to implement PSF

The Supply Chain and Logistics sector is the first to adopt the PSF, as its own Skills Framework was launched the same day.

The Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Skills Development Authority, and the Logistics Services Philippines were present to sign the Memorandum of Agreement.

The MOA aims to establish a collaborative effort between the government and the logistics services sector in advancing a competitive and future-ready logistics workforce through training and skills development. Specifically, the MOA provides scholarship programs to the logistics services sector on existing TESDA Training Regulations and non-registered programs, as well as collaborate on the formulation of the Philippine Skills Framework for Supply Chain and Logistics.

The PSF will also be implemented in the priority sectors, namely: Construction, IT-BPM, Tourism, Health and Wellness, Food, Manufacturing, and Creative Design industries.