The International Labor Organization is urging the Philippines to adopt an ILO model for skills competency standard in agriculture to help increase the number of farmers in the country, as the average age of Filipino farmers age is now 57.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has proposed to the Philippines and Associated of Southeast Asian Nations the use of the Regional Model for Competency Standards in Agriculture and Aquaculture (RMCS).
Adoption of the RMCS will also form part of the development of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in the Philippines, particularly in agriculture and fisheries.
“Agriculture remains the backbone of most Southeast Asian economies, with about 450 million people depending on it for livelihood, food, and trade,” said SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr.
“This brings into sharp focus the need to develop competencies of agricultural workers in light of their important role in raising farm productivity and contribution to food and nutrition security as well as poverty alleviation in the region,” he added.
The RMCS of ILO is concerned that there is often a mismatch between skills offered by employers and the needs of workers.
“This means that some people are learning skills that are not needed in domestic industries, and training organizations are wasting their limited resources by providing training that is not used. This is a serious problem for any country as it holds back development and growth in productivity and employment,” according to ILO.
The presence of such skills in agriculture will become even more important in light of Asean integration, Saguiguit said, where labor force migration will become more prevalent.
“Labor migration is projected particularly for workers in the agriculture sector. Increased labor mobility will require quality assurance for sending countries and skills recognition for receiving ones. It will give agricultural workers equitable access to high quality training and fair opportunities,” he said.
An earlier report of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) indicated the country needs to improve TVET systems and trainings to “prepare for an increasingly fast changing and unpredictable world.”
The standardization and classification of specific skills will be a key to identifying exact skills needed by industries. Thus consultation with the private sector, the ultimate users of skills, on their need for certain skills is important.
The goal for “inclusive” development in helping the poor and vulnerable will also be addressed by an effective National System of TVET (NSTVET), a program overseen by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
“A good NSTVET should be designed to support increases in productivity on the shop floor [private sector]. But a common concern is that small and medium enterprises may not have the financial capacities nor the training resources to conduct or finance training that will increase their productivity to make them competitive and grow,” PIDS said.