Message of support at the opening of the ILO-TESDA STEM in TVET curriculum guide workshop

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the opening of the ILO-TESDA STEM in TVET curriculum guide workshop, 20 October 2020 Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 20 October 2020
  • DDG Urdaneta of TESDA
  • Representatives from various TESDA training centres, and industries.
  • Ms Sakamoto, Senior Specialist and colleagues from the ILO
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po.
The ILO is happy to welcome you all to the ILO-TESDA Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) in Technical Vocational Education Curriculum Guide Workshop.

This workshop comes at a time when the world is besieged by challenges brought about by technological advances, climate change, demographic changes and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has become evident that the need for STEM skills is a critical impetus for development. More than ever, workers need STEM skills to keep up with the advances and changes in the labour market and to design solutions.

With rapid transformations in technology, changing dynamics of industries, and more
recently, the threat of the pandemic, it is imperative that human capital development for STEM must include technical vocational education and training (TVET).

STEM education develops skills that are difficult to automate and are intuitively oriented toward innovation.

In the past, innovation and discoveries were associated with professionals with university degrees in STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, because they have always been at the forefront of technology development. However, behind the success of these STEM professionals are workers testing new ideas, and implementing the work for these technologies to work. While they are not directly involved with the ideation for these new technologies, they are critical in the design and execution of these ideas.

Innovation hubs and research facilities cannot operate without capable hands of STEM technologists, technicians, and tradespeople that graduate from TVET certificate programmes. They are the hidden force that drives a STEM-powered economy that focuses on productivity, competitiveness and innovation.

It is this part of the future labour force that needs to be equipped and capacitated to help troubleshoot production lines to avoid disruptions, engage in problem solving of technical processes. They need the right tools to be able to resolve malfunctions and they need an understanding of how systems connect to one another so as to provide the best solutions. These scenarios illustrate problem solving, critical thinking, and systems thinking, which are all STEM skills.

STEM skills are already within TVET competencies, however they are not articulated and explicitly related to its importance in the workplace.

Without being clear what the STEM skills are in TVET, it is more likely that effective pedagogies are not being used in training delivery. It is important to understand the STEM skills in TVET that must be prioritized in relation to the future of work as well as identify effective pedagogies given the emerging trends in vocational education and training.

One of the key priorities under the Decent Work Country Programme, is productive, remunerative, freely chosen, green and sustainable work opportunities for all Filipinos willing to work. This priority highlights the importance of responsive technical and vocational training programmes. Responsive technical and vocational training programmes need to focus on the development of STEM competencies that will prepare workers to be agile and resilient in the face of the rapid changing requirements of the future of work.

This has been the goal of the ILO Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme which has focused on supporting TVET graduates to obtain STEM related critical technical and soft skills. In the past three years, we have supported the promotion of training and employment opportunities in technology related TVET trainings among women workers.

Today we focus on more institutional, and systemic side, towards building the STEM skills in TVET for the different priority sectors in ICT, agriculture, construction, land transportation, tourism, metal and health.

We are fortunate to be joined today not only by trainors from TESDA, but also from private TVIs, and industry representatives who can bridge the gap between training centres and industry in designing trainings in sync with industry standards. At our sessions for the workshop are professors of the Center for Integrated STEM Education of the UP College of Education who will demonstrate the link between STEM and TVET.

We are grateful to TESDA led by DDG Rose for supporting the Women in STEM programme, whose pioneer vision on STEM in TVET for TESDA has opened this opportunity between industry and academe. We are excited for this collaborative work between the different training institutions here today and 2021 pilots STEM in TVET trainings.

I wish us all a productive and successful writeshop with our continued collaboration for a better future of work.

Maraming salamat po.