REPATRIATED overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who wish to acquire new practical skills have been encouraged to avail of government’s tuition-free technical vocational education and training (TVET) programs.
“They may freely enroll in state-run or accredited private TVET schools without having to pay for any tuition or miscellaneous fees,” said Aniceto Bertiz III, deputy director-general for partnerships and linkages of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
TVET program graduates can use their newly acquired proficiencies to establish small tax-exempt, home-based shops under the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Law, Bertiz, a former ACTS-CIS party-list lawmaker, said.
“They may also use their new competencies to obtain new jobs here at home or abroad,” Bertiz said.
A total of 204,481 OFWs – 69,477 sea-based workers and 135,004 land-based workers – have come home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“We would urge those aspiring to study for free in TVET schools to visit the TESDA website, where they can search for a new skill that they want to learn, and also find the nearest school that offers the desired program for free,” Bertiz said.
Zero tuition in TVET schools forms part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE), according to Bertiz, a former member of Congress.
“Actually, tuition and other fees are free not just in state universities and colleges, but also in government-run TVET institutions and even TESDA-registered private schools,” Bertiz said.
“In fact, TESDA is getting another P2.9 billion next year to pay for all the tuition and miscellaneous fees of students in TVET schools,” Bertiz said.
TVET programs provide new knowledge and capabilities for gainful employment or self-employment via a combination of formal, non-formal and informal learning, Bertiz said.
Meanwhile, Bertiz said that under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Congress appropriated P1 billion in emergency funding for TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program and Special Training for Employment Program.
“Workers displaced by the COVID-19 crisis, including repatriated OFWs, may avail of the programs to either acquire new skills or further upgrade their expertise,” Bertiz said.