Salceda: TESDA as department is “crucial” to skills upgrading, investments, job creation, economic surge

The elevation of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to a department level executive agency is deemed “crucial” to the country’s further skills upgrading, job creation, investments and economic recovery.

House Ways and Means Committee chair. Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay 2nd district) who crafted and filed the bill seeking TESDA’s upgrade to a department level agency, said he will push the bill’s  passage once Congress resumes session in July.

Salceda, who also chairs the House economic recovery cluster panel said he has been discussing the matter with concerned Executive agencies to ensure enough funding support for the new agency. The costs are justified in view of the economic impact of a “well-stocked skills bank among our people,” and retraining and reskilling of workers is bound to create new industries, he added.

“We have enough people, but industries are looking for enough skills to locate in a country. As we begin to open the Philippines to foreign investments, we need our people to have the necessary skills to take advantage of new jobs and add value to these industries,” he pointed out.

Salceda noted that “in some cases, the skills we have are not attuned to the demands of the new economy. We really need a massive skills development drive. We need to reskill and retrain our labor force, consistently and competitively, to truly protect their jobs in this rapidly developing global economy.”

“COVID-19 killed many industries for good, and while we have to help most businesses, we can’t feed dead horses. We need to create new industries. In my 200-plus consultations with industries during the discussions on the CREATE Act, businesses were clear that their biggest concern was talent and skills,” he stressed.

Salceda’s plan “is to upgrade TESDA into a department and upskill some 50 million Filipinos, converge those skills into complete value-chains, and complement them with reinforcing industrial policy, such as CREATE and industrial planning.”

The ability of TESDA to create new industries is demonstrated in Albay’s success in creating an agro-industrial and agro-tourism sector “from scratch,” he said, adding that he has been consistently helping and promoting reforms in Albay’s local skills training under TESDA, a program which had attained considerable successes.  

“By investing in agricultural and agro-tourism infrastructure and skills, we were able to create new agro-tourism and agro-industrial businesses such as farm schools, farm-to-table restaurants, new tourist destinations. We now also produce more food for our people, which keeps prices in check and allows our people to do more with their wages,” Salceda said.

“This is in large part due to TESDA’s investment in Albay. Agro-tourism is our comparative advantage because we have a beautiful province with plenty of rural spaces. The same model can be replicated in other provinces with different advantages, and we can seriously do this with TESDA becoming a department,” he explained.

Salceda pointed out that “TESDA is the singular most critical institution in the emerging new economy, so, we need it to be among the strongest institutions of government, and we should strengthen TESDA because it works.”

Currently, Salceda’s district is among the most aggressive implementors of TESDA projects, granting hundreds of slots for TESDA trainings under the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP).