Some of the country's training and assessment centers have raised serious concerns on the government decision to place Metro Manila under prolonged strict quarantine status that prohibits the conduct of face-to-face training and assessments to prevent loss of jobs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and hasten economic recovery.

ATSMI President Dr. Glenn Blasquez
ATSMI President Dr. Glenn Blasquez

The Association of Technical Schools in Manila Inc. (ATSMI) asked Sen. Lawrence "Bong" Go to intercede on its behalf to appeal the resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force Guidelines (IATF) that only allows online training during Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified Enhanced Quarantine (MECQ). In a letter to the senator, the ATSMI, a group of technical and vocational institutions accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), asked that its members be allowed to conduct face-to-face training and assessment while observing extra measures over and above the minimum health and safety protocols imposed by the IATF. This will allow seafarers to update their training requirements especially for the positions of Messman and cook, ATSMI President Dr. Glenn Mark Blasquez said.

"We are expecting thousands of seafarers will be deployed within the next few months. If our seafarers would not be able to meet the training requirements, there is a greater possibility that other nationalities would be hired instead of Filipino seafarers. All ships require the chief cook to prepare food for the crew and Messman to help manage the kitchen," warned Blasquez.

He said a typical assessment room among ATSMI members could accommodate more than 24 persons but they only accept 10 persons per class to observe social distancing and other health protocols.

The TESDA certificates issued to those who underwent the training and passed the assessment are the basis used by foreign employers in hiring sea-based workers. Sea-based workers, however, can only be issued with these National Certificates after undergoing face-to-face training.