Following the latest results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) labor force survey (LFS), more innovative and flexible learning programs are needed to respond to the challenges of preserving and creating jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.
“Workers now need to adapt to the changes in business operations brought about by the pandemic as economic activities resume. Online or blended learning programs will now play a key role in providing opportunities for Filipinos who will require retooling and upskilling, especially those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic,” said NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua.
Chua cited the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Online Program (TOP) launched in 2012 to serve as an open educational resource that will make technical education more accessible to Filipinos through the use of information and communications technology (ICT). Currently, the TOP has 70 available online courses under 16 categories.
Technical-vocational institutions may now adopt flexible learning delivery modes depending on institutional capacity, trainer’s capability, and learner’s access to ICT.
According to the TOP Monitoring Report, 564,828 users, 70 percent of whom are female, enrolled during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period. Meanwhile, 62 percent of active users revealed that they registered to the TOP in light of the lockdown. These users expressed that they intend to learn more skills either to secure their jobs or to find new employment.
The report also identified tourism (21 percent), entrepreneurship (16 percent), 21st century skills (14 percent), and ICT (10 percent) as the most enrolled courses in the TOP.
Courses such as utilizing electronic media in facilitating training, development of training curriculum (blended), and facilitating e-learning sessions were developed to address the skills needed in the education sector due to the shift to flexible learning delivery modes.
In line with this, Chua emphasized the importance of digital transformation particularly in government offices.
“As we transition to a new normal where physical contact remains restricted, we need to invest in digital transformation. This is an important structural reform that will allow us to continue to provide educational, training, and other social services and also enable people and businesses to transact with government more safely and easily,” the NEDA chief said.
“It will be a difficult process. While the government itself invests in infrastructure, we also need to have competition policies that will encourage the private sector to help improve the country’s information technology infrastructure. The challenge is how to bring down the cost while increasing the quality of services,” Chua added.
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