Tesda exec bats for OFW skills capacity-building assistance

By The Manila Times

Technical Education and Skills Development (Tesda) Deputy Director General Aniceto “John” Bertiz 3rd has pushed for the creation of a special unit to assist overseas Filipino workers repatriated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bertiz, a former ACTS-OFW party-list representative, said government must ensure that repatriated OFWs and their dependents are given the reskilling and upskilling training they need to cope with the economic crisis prompted by the pandemic.

“Our OFWs and their families are among those badly hit by the pandemic. We need a long term and comprehensive program for them so that they can rebuild their lives and recoup the losses they have incurred,” he said.

Official figures showed that more than 520,000 OFWs have been displaced since the outbreak of the pandemic, 410,211 of whom have been repatriated and have returned home after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

In his State of the Nation Address last year, President Duterte called on Tesda to come up with special training programs to retool repatriated OFWs so that they could easily find employment or have access to livelihood programs.

Bertiz said as the government slowly opens up the country’s economy under the new normal, the displaced OFWs would be better served by providing them with skills training and allowing them to access livelihood funds.

“Apart from the ayuda or financial assistance that the government has given them, our OFWs need to be better equipped with necessary skills in order for them to make it through the new normal,” he said.

The Tesda official acknowledged that there are “many programs to assist and reintegrate displaced and repatriated OFWs,” so it is necessary to create a “single unit” to rationalize all these.

Bertiz, who assumed office in June 2020, has been pushing for a special program for repatriated OFWs and their dependents called “Kapit Kamay KaOFW Project” designed to rationalize projects and services for them.

The program seeks to empower returning, stranded and displaced OFWs here and abroad through its reskilling and upskilling training programs.

As part of the Philippine government’s post-pandemic recovery plans, it adopts an end-to-end approach to providing knowledge, skills capacity-building and livelihood — kaalaman, kakayahan, kabuhayan — assistance to pandemic-affected OFWs and their dependents.

It also seeks to urge affected OFWs to enroll and earn certifications from Tesda programs and bridge them to available loan facilities as well as enlist the support of retired or retiring OFWs to address the lack of competent and qualified trainers or subject matter experts in the provincial or regional levels.

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