Press Release
February 2, 2019

Villanueva: Tulong Trabaho bill ready for Duterte's signature

Senator Joel Villanueva on Saturday, February 2, said the Tulong Trabaho bill that seeks to provide free access to technical-vocational education is now ready for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office submitted the harmonized version of Senate Bill No. 1431 and House Bill No. 8139 to Malacanang last January 24, according to Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

"The passage of our Tulong Trabaho bill into law will make tech-voc accessible to all, boost our workers' confidence to face the world of work and ensure that the youth who are ready to work hard with the right skill sets to obtain in-demand jobs," the senator said in a statement.

The passage of the measure into law could hopefully address the problem of job-skills mismatch that has resulted to high unemployment rate, according to the senator.

The unemployment rate in the Philippines rose to 5.1 percent in the last quarter of 2018 from 5 percent in the same period in 2017.

The number of unemployed persons went up by 17,000 to 2.2 million while the number of employed dropped by 218,000 to 41.3 million.

Recent report also revealed that educated Filipinos comprise almost half of the unemployed population in the country.

Based on the JobsFit 2022 Labor Market Information (LMI) Report of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), 43.9 percent or almost a million of the unemployed across the country in 2017 have either reached or graduated from high school. Of the said figure, 825,000 are college graduates.

"This is a serious concern since it highlights the prevalence of job-skills mismatch in our country. To help resolve unemployment, the knowledge and skills of our graduates must match with the jobs needed by the market," Villanueva said.

The report also noted that college undergraduates or graduates are less likely to get hired compared with jobseekers with lower level of educational attainment due to former's "higher reservation wages" and patience to wait for better job offers.

The DOLE added that the chance of finding employment may also depend on the program or course the college graduates have completed.

"Job-skills mismatch remains a problem in our labor sector and that is why we are adamant in pushing for the passage of our Tulong Trabaho that seeks to narrow the gap of unemployment by providing free tech-voc training and addresses job-skills mismatch through establishment of a Philippine Labor Force Competencies Competitiveness Program that is based on Labor Market Intelligence Reports," said Villanueva, the measure's principal author and sponsor, said.

The law increases the funding for technical and vocational training by providing for a Tulong Trabaho Fund that will grant qualified recipients access to TVET training programs through the full payment of the selected programs' training fees.

The fund also grants additional financial assistance to students such as transportation allowance and laboratory fees.

The Tulong Trabaho fund will be administered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

"That's why we want to give more support to our people -- working and not working -- by apportioning a Tulong Trabaho Fund in the General Appropriations Act that will be managed by the TESDA Board," he said.

He said increasing the allocation of TESDA scholarship programs will lead to greater output and productivity of workers.

According to Villanueva, TESDA received P2.2 billion for its Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) last year. However, he said, the amount for TWSP funding remained the same for this year despite the increasing demand for tech-voc courses.

TESDA records showed enrollees of tech-voc courses increased sharply by 45 percent or 2.3 million in 2015 from 1.6 million enrollees in 2010.

Under the Tulong Trabaho bill, the TESDA Board would approve the list of eligible applications based on the recommendation of the TESDA secretariat. The recipients of the Tulong Trabaho fund would be evaluated periodically to ensure that at least 80 percent of the beneficiaries would be certified after the training program.

Failure to meet the passing rate would subject the recipient industry board to performance review and be audited by the TESDA board, according to the bill.

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