By Dhel Nazario
The Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) assured on Wednesday that it will prioritize scholarship programs of the Overseas Filipinos Work (OFW) returning to the country at the height of the ongoing tension between the United States and Iran.
TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña has already directed regional and provincial offices of the agency to meet up with the OFWs.
“TESDA is ready for the untimely return of thousands of our OFWs. We will provide scholarships including free assessment and certification. I have also instructed our officers on the ground to meet them right at the airports when they arrive and offer our assistance,” Lapeña said in a statement.
Following the TESDA Circular No. 58 series of 2016, or the “Guidelines in the Conduct of Reintegration Program for Returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),” TESDA established a reintegration program that would provide free skills training (either for wage or self-employment) and free assessment and certification for returning OFWs and their immediate family members.
The program was instituted parallel to the “National Reintegration Program” of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OVVWA).
The objectives of the program are determining the skills training needs of returning OFWs and/or their immediate family members, which are necessary for local employment or to start their own business; providing free skills training and free assessment and certification that matches employment needs, both local or abroad; and providing assistance in job referrals and employment.
The TESDA Reintegration Program also taps the expertise of returning OFWs, for the implementation of TESDA programs and projects as trainers, assessors, or experts. It also facilitates the reintegration of returning OFWs into the mainstream of Philippine society.
Also supporting the agency’s thrust towards enhanced and globalized programs for OFWs is the TESDA Circular No. 129-2019, or the “Implementing Guidelines on the Pilot Implementation of TESDA Overseas Scholarship Program,” which guarantees upskilling and better jobs for the said beneficiaries.
This overseas scholarship program targets currently employed OFWs, especially those in vulnerable occupations, as it aims to provide better employment opportunities, as well as to expand the said clients’ access to free quality TVET and competency assessments.
It also aims to support the OFWs who serve as trainers on volunteer basis, and assist Filipino organizations and communities in funding their training programs.