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Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Isidro Lapeña is looking forward to advancing the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), as well as intensifying partnerships with businesses and industries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines was recently named the inaugural chair of the ASEAN TVET Council (ATC) for 2020-2022, and this will be led by TESDA.

“Skills development is one of the priorities of the ASEAN today, given the technological transformations and other global developments that are continuously affecting the education and employment landscapes,” he told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on Friday.

Lapeña said TESDA will be taking the task in steering how the TVET Council will move forward in terms of advancing TVET and skills development in the region.

“With the establishment of the ATC, we are really looking forward to a more concrete and coordinated action in terms of policy making and program implementation from all the key players in skills development — such as government, business and industry, academe or training institutes at the ASEAN level,” he said.

The ATC, he said, shall pursue reforms in policies, innovations in the TVET systems, region-wide researches, enhanced skills anticipation and forecasting, and mutual recognition of skills and qualifications across the region, among others, which will directly benefit our workforce.

“I also look forward to an intensified partnership with the business and industry at the ASEAN level, as they are excellent sources of policy inputs in all of these,” he added.

As a first step for the ATC, TESDA will lead on the development of the Council’s work plan. Lapeña said the ASEAN member states can expect the same commitment and support that TESDA gave during the development process of the ATC proposal. TESDA proposed the establishment of the ATC in 2017.

“For our two-year chairmanship, together with all the ATC focal points and the ASEAN Secretariat, we will work very hard to come up with an integrated and comprehensive regional work plan that will harmonize related programs. We will also facilitate a coherent approach in the implementation of skills development policies and programs among the education, labor, and economic sectors, to ensure workforce preparedness and competitiveness,” he said.

Lapeña also mentioned that TESDA will go in the same direction for the Filipino workforce, to ensure competitiveness and ability to adapt to the changes happening in the workplace, both locally and overseas.

Meanwhile, the TESDA chief said the Philippines’ chairmanship of the ATC was not through nomination.

Because the Philippines was the lead proponent of the ATC, Lapeña said the ASEAN Secretariat asked the country to be the chair.

“We expressed our willingness to serve as the inaugural chair, but of course this was subject to the consensus of all the ATC members. Having no objections by the members, the ASEAN Secretariat formally informed us of the Philippines’ assumption as the inaugural chair of the Council until 2022,” he said. (PNA)

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