IN his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), Pres. Benigno Aquino 3rd commended the efforts of Emerson Paguia, a balut vendor-turned-IT professional who with hard work made his way to success with the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
Aquino said in his fourth SONA that out of the 503,521 graduates of technical-vocational schools, 60 percent finished their studies and eventually found work.
This is in stark contrast, Aquino said, from the 28.5 percent or nearly three out of every 10 who graduated with the help of Tesda from 2006 to 2008.
With Paguia as his example, Aquino said that in this day and age, no one should be left behind if one simply couples his skills with perseverance.
According to the Commission on Audit, Tesda posted strong figures on employment if their national targets and their accomplishments are juxtaposed.
In the 2011 audit report of Tesda, the agency surpassed its national target in terms of number of technical-vocational graduates who were placed in wage-employment.
Tesda posted a 100.74 percent accomplishment rating, for placing 270,504 graduates compared to its target of 268,504.
To be clear though, Tesda had 1,332,751 graduates in 2011.
As for those who helped supported themselves, Tesda had a lower mark at 84.13 for self-employed graduates. The agency’s target is at 228,059 graduates but only 191,859 lived by their own means.
Meanwhile, job opportunities for Tesda-assisted graduates ballooned. From a national target of 5,234, there were 102,241 or a 1,853.4-percent accomplishment rate.
True to its mandate, Tesda operates by giving Filipinos, usually those who could not cope with the expense of university schooling, a bid to join the workforce to gain decent living.
Certify the skills
Enter Josephine Estrada, one of those who passed the Tesda-assisted certification in bookkeeping as part of her education in a two-year computer secretarial course.
The 20-year-old househelp was fortunate enough to work for a family who believed in her skills and intelligence. The Placinos allowed her to study in Access Computer and Technical Schools in Camarin, Caloocan City, wherein Tesda operates in assistance with the school for skills certification.
The native of Igbaras, Iloilo told The Manila Times that during her study for computer secretarial, she and her classmates were encouraged to take a Tesda-administered exam to certify their bookkeeping skills after 292 hours of training.
“Sinabihan kami na mag-take ng Tesda exam. Pag meron ka kasing certification, makikita ng employer na may skills ka na kilala ng gobyerno [We were told to take the Tesda exam. If you have certification, employers will actually see that you have the skills],” she added.
She passed the Tesda exam and gained a national certificate 3 for bookkeeping, which is a plus considering that she aimed to work as an accounting assistant, she said.
With her two-year course completed and a Tesda certification, Estrada plans to take on a more solid approach: the civil service exam in order to gain ground for her employment.
And with experience from passing a Tesda exam, she is optimistic that the state exam is not far from being hard as she was told that the “civil service exam is harder but quite similar with the Tesda.”
“I still had to review yet because I really want to pass,” she said, adding that two of her previous classmates are already off to take the next schedule of exams.
Estrada, who finished schooling this summer, was quick to add that she has not yet scoured for job.
“I am not yet looking for job but I will be,” she said since she is still fixing her job requirements.
During his SONA, the chief executive said in an English translation that “comprehensive and sustained progress” is hinged on “widespread opportunity,” the seeds that must be watered with diligence, determination, and dedication.
And figures from Tesda would show that Estrada and Paguia appear to be one of those who took the opportunity.
In the latest 2011 statistics of technical-vocational education and training from Tesda, national certificates (NC) given for bookkeeping, photovoltaic systems design and programming are in the bottom three in the rankings of persons assessed and certified by Tesda, meaning, these are the courses which seems to be the hardest to be certified.
In 2011, there were 6,550 aspiring bookkeepers who were assessed for NC 3, but only 3,176 were certified, yielding a 48.5 passing rate.
Tesda assessed 19 persons for PV systems design NC 3 but only five were certified or a 26.3 passing rate.
At the bottom is Paguia’s ilk. With 10,137 aspiring programmers for NC 4, only 789 passed or 7.8 passing rate.
By sector, figures from the Competency Assessment and Certification Office showed that furniture and fixtures topped those who were given certification with 100 percent, followed by utilities (98.9), processed food (95.3), maritime (93.2) and health, social and other community development services (89.7), where bookkeeping is included
Rounding up the list are agriculture and fishery (89.2); tourism (88.1); construction (85.9); heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (85.6); metals and engineering (83.3); and garments (81.4).
Sectors with least certified technical and vocational graduates are automotive (76.8), electronics (70.6) and information and communications technology (54.8).
What is clear though, Estrada said, is that, when skills are recognized, more so certified, employers will not fumble to turn one down outright.
And with her desire to take the civil service examination, all the more that her opportunities will widen as both the public and private sectors acknowledge the state test.
“Pero uunahin ko muna sa private kasi mas maraming requirements ang kailangan sa government [I will start looking for jobs first in private sector because the government demands more requirements],” she said.
Regardless, if she were to gauge how she would fare in finding a job, she would be a competitive “7” in the scale of employability, she affably rated herself.
She added that in her experience as a student who does not have much to afford the usual university standing, the key is to certify the skills that one has.
“Mas malaki yung chance na ma-employ ka kapag certified yung skills mo [Your chance of employment is higher if your skills are certified],” Estrada said.
On July 22, in what is a snarl to those who would simply choose to idle around and wait for the apple to fall on their face, Aquino said that those who are left behind are those who do not choose to seize passing opportunity.
“You are the ones who will shape this growth. You are the ones who will determine whether the fruits of our labors become sweet and ripe for the picking,” the English translation of Aquino’s SONA read.
Is the absence of a college diploma a reason these days to not earn a decent living? Not anymore.