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Tech-voc grads living proof OFWs are world-class

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, Feature

Jan. 30, 19 | 7:37 pm

DUBAI: Efforts are underway to push for more frequent on-site skills assessment and certification for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE by the Philippines’ Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for them to level-up and be more competent.

In the same vein, qualified OFWs are now being trained to have them do the assessment on those who have undergone skills trainings.

This, even as the country’s foreign mission in the UAE awaits progress on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed May 9, 2018 by TESDA and the UAE’s National Qualifications Authority (NQA) highlighting mutual cooperation between the two countries in the area of Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET), and guaranteeing that the certifications issued will be recognized here.

Labor Attache Alejandro Padaen

Prior to the MOU, OFWs planning on career growth had to go home in the Philippines, undergo TESDA skills training and obtain certification, which by itself would need to be red-ribbon authenticated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

They can also undergo skills training in the UAE through a licensed training center duly recognized by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and Department of Economic Development (DED), then undergo TESDA assessment and obtain certification if they pass.

Yearly onsite assessment

However, onsite TESDA assessments happen almost just every year, according to Labor Attaché Felicitas Bay of the Philippine Consulate.

“Depende din kasi yan sa dami ng magpapa-assess; sa interes ng mga OFWs. The assessors will come from TESDA. If we can have a good number of graduates or trainees (this year), then we will push for the assessment similar to what we did last year,” she told The Filipino Times.

(It also depends on the number of those who would want to undergo assessment and on the interest of the OFWs themselves.)

Labor Attache Felicitas Bay

“This year, we will propose that TESDA do an assessment on massage therapy and photography,” said Bay.

Numbers

The first TESDA onsite assessment was held at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai in December of 2014,” Bay said, adding that this was followed in March of 2015.

There was none in 2016, she said.

On May 12 and 13, 2017, Bay said a total of 43 OFWs were certified out of the 72 who were assessed in the following qualifications: Technical Drafting NC II of which 13 got their papers; Caregiving NC II of which 17 got theirs; Massage Therapy NC II, of which 18 were certified; and Visual Graphics and Design, of which there were five recipients.

Meantime, the labor attaché said 206 OFWs availed of the onsite TESDA assessment for Caregiving NC II and Visual Graphic and Design NC III on November 15, 16 and 17 last year. Broken down, she said 205 were assessed in Caregiving NC II with 167 making it to be certified – a passing rate of 81.46%. The lone participant for the Visual Graphic and Design NC III also passed.

The successful OFWs received their certification during a ceremony held at the Philippine Consulate on Jan. 25.

POLO Dubai is the only TESDA-designated assessment center in the Middle East since 2014; POLO Hong Kong it is in Asia, according to Bay.

Abu Dhabi figures

Available records at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi meanwhile showed that there were 291 OFWs who underwent the onsite assessment by TESDA held in the city from July 26 to 31 last year.

Of this number, 165 were assessed in Caregiving NC II; 34 in Massage Therapy NC II; 83 in Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II; and nine in Trainer’s Methodology I.

A total of 238 made it with some 135 given certifications as caregivers; 24, massage therapists; 72 having received their certificates in Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II; and seven in Trainer’s Methodology, which would allow them to conduct the TESDA assessment themselves.

TESDA onsite assessments in Abu Dhabu were done through an embassy-accredited private company, which has nine qualifications on offer, that aside from those already mentioned, also includes Bartending NC II, Bookkeeping NC III, Customer Services NC II, Events Management Services NC III and Food and Beverage Services NC II.

Graduating from the TESDA programs will ensure the trainee a National Certificate from TESDA Assessment that comes with benefits that include a quality assurance that the graduate has acquired proper knowledge and an understanding of the task at hand from undergoing a series of practical and hands-on demonstrations, positive attitudes from interviews with people who contribute to the job and work projects, according to a TESDA primer.

The certificate will also guarantee that the graduate has acquired the values that can help his/her skills needed for the said occupation and for future opportunities that can follow from the success of the current project, it also said.

Trend

There were no immediately available data on how many OFWs got their certifications during the early years of onsite TESDA assessments in 2014 and 2015.

Nonetheless, officials said the numbers have been increasing and are expected to further rise – which is why, they said, and as former Labor Attaché Ophelia Almenario had told The Filipino Times during her term, training modules are available for interested OFWs to themselves become assessors.

This, to eventually make the program self-sustaining and save TESDA time and resources of having to be physically present.

Bay said OFWs go the extra mile to obtain TESDA certifications because “it is a feather in their cap.”

“It is self-improvement. Magandang bagay na nadevelop mo ang iyong potential, na ikaw ay pumasa sa competency assessment. Ang isang magandang bagay rin dyan ay sila ay nangangarap na makapunta sa ibang trabaho at yung iba ay seeking greener pastures.

“Maramin dyan ang nagsabi sa amin na, ‘ma’am kailangan ko po ng certification para sa aking application sa Canada,’ or ‘sa aking ongoing submission of documents for New Zealand or Australia.’ So, malaking bagay na may certification from the Philippine government,”

(It’s really something to develop your potential and pass the competency assessment. Another noteworthy thing is that they aspire to move to another job, some to seek greener pastures. A lot of the OFWs who took the competency test told us, ‘Ma’am, I need the certification for my application to Canada’ or ‘formy submission of documents to New Zealand or Australia.’ So, a certification from the Philippine government is indeed a big thing.)

The TESDA certification is also ticket to a better paying job, officials said.

Technical Working Group

Another factor seen to expedite the OFW skills development program is the Technical Working Group (TWG) to be composed of senior officials from UAE and Philippine governments who, by virtue of an MOU signed on May 9 last year.

“Nakalagay naman dun sa agreement na yung members ng joint working group na yun, ang responsibility nila ay mag-establish ng work program for the cooperation activities,” said Labor Attaché Alejandro Padaen of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

(It is stated in the agreement that members of the joint working group will be responsible in establishing a work program for the cooperation activities.)

“So, basically sila (TWG) talaga ang mag ta-trabaho for that. Kailangan ma-establish yun para mag-meeting na at mag-agree sila for the various work programs na kailangan nilang gawin to achieve the objective of the MOU,” Padaen said.

(Basically, it’s the TWG that would be working on that. The TWG needs to be established so we can get the ball rolling, have meetings and agreement on the various work programs that they need to do to achieve the objective of the MOU.)

The MOU highlights mutual cooperation between the two countries in the area of Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET), guaranteeing that the certifications issued will be recognized here in the UAE.

Padaen said TWG is tasked to come up with recommendations for TESDA and UAE’s National Qualifications Authority (NQA) for the recognition arrangements

“We will continue to coordinate with the authorities to establish the Technical Working Group. We will inform the public for further developments,” he said.

Padaen stressed: “We’re going towards the direction of having the certificates recognized by the government here so napaka-importante nun. In some jurisdictions recognized na ang TESDA although here in the UAE, papunta pa lang tayo doon. It will be important to give them (OFWs) opportunities.”

Countries where TESDA certificates are honored or required include ASEAN members, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, officials said. (With a report by Neil Bie)

AT A GLANCE

OFWs who have received TESDA certifications following competency assessment (2018)

SOURCE: POLO Abu Dhabi and Dubai

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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