ADB calls for skills training reforms

Published March 24, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) needs to adopt nontraditional, innovative, and flexible approaches as school disruptions and closures due to the pandemic continue, an Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) study revealed,

Based on the “Technical and Vocation Education and Training in the Philippines in the Age of Industry 4.0″ report, the country should reform its technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system to meet fast-changing industry needs.

“Industry 4.0 poses a huge challenge to developing nations like the Philippines, as they have traditionally relied on industrialization and its capacity to generate high-paying jobs as a path toward economic growth,” said ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed.

The ADB study, which was carried out at TESDA’s request, is especially timely as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to take a heavy toll on the country’s labor market.

More than ever, the importance of adequate and timely investment in skills—including reskilling, upskilling, and the development of strong technical and soft skills—is needed to help displaced workers transition into new jobs, ADB said.

ADB said that TESDA should adopt online learning and digital tool, noting that these have played a critical role in retooling and upgrading the skills of displaced workers. 

The report recommended promoting skills training and education as a crucial part of the country’s labor market policies during the post-pandemic recovery and beyond. 

While adjustments to the system during the pandemic have been largely effective, the report also noted that there are longer-term challenges.


“Although TESDA has made major achievements over the years, questions around its appropriate role, endemic resource constraints, and organizational capacity weigh on its ability to respond to Industry 4.0,” Sameer Khatiwada, lead author of the study, said.

These questions include the unsettled issue of devolution of TESDA’s direct training function. The matter has important implications for access to funding and resources, and for the ability to provide up-to-date services.

The report recommended that the government seek new and effective ways to secure industry engagement in skills training.

Among these are anticipating skills demand, ensuring better targeting of skills training programs and greater efficiency of skills supply, limiting mismatches, and improving labor market outcomes. 

The report also recommended standardizing and improving workshops, equipment, and digital solutions to meet international norms.