MODERNIZING FILIPINO SKILLS
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Isidro
“Sid” S. Lapeña believes that improving the country’s system of training and capacitybuilding
is essential to meet and surpass global standards.
BY CAMILLE CABAL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA JR.
When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte appointed his Cabinet members, some expressed their concern about his proclivity for appointing retired generals and military veterans. Age aside, they were also questioned about their qualifications for the role. Prior to his appointment as TESDA director general in 2018, Secretary Isidro “Sid” S. Lapeña had already proven his mettle in government work—from being the chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in 2016 to spearheading the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in 2017.
PROVIDING TRAININGS AND JOBS DURING THE PANDEMIC
Unemployment has always been one of the biggest problems plaguing the Philippines. From 2.26 million jobless Filipinos in 2019, the number surged to 4.5 million in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions were displaced from their jobs, especially in services and agriculture. As the agency that is helping the country’s workforce gain more skills and technical knowledge, it was also a challenging journey for TESDA. However, TESDA did not leave the Filipinos disappointed through their continuous assistance in reskilling workers, leading them to other opportunities or to return to their former jobs.
Since TESDA has been providing onsite training, many of their classes were put to a halt by the lockdown. From over two million enrollees in 2019, the enrollees of TESDA technical-vocational (tech-voc) programs dropped to around 700,000 in 2020. On the other hand, the decrease in tech-voc enrollees gave way for the increase of enrollees and graduates of TESDA Online Program (TOP). TESDA was surprised with the distinct increase in the number of registrations in courses that can be done at home like housekeeping—gaining an 816 percent increase in registration and 925 percent increase in enrollment in 2020. The agency continued to add more programs to benefit the Filipino people while staying at home. From 68 online courses, the agency now has 141 online courses, including “Harnessing Social Media to Expand your Business,” and “Getting