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TESDA is distributing only now the free individual toolkits

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is distributing only now the free individual toolkits meant for tens of thousands of scholars who graduated from the agency’s training programs in 2019, Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. complained on Sunday.

“We seriously doubt these toolkits that arrived very late will ever get to their intended beneficiaries, considering that TESDA, by its own admission, is no longer able to trace many of its graduates,” Campos said.

“The toolkits should have been given to the scholars while they were still on training, or upon their graduation in 2019. However, due to glaring inefficiencies at TESDA, the materials started arriving only this month,” Campos said.

“We in Congress are really very disappointed and dissatisfied at the way TESDA is doing its job now,’ Campos said.

The toolkits are sets of gadgets that TESDA scholars are supposed to get at no cost as part of their government-sponsored training.

From electric ovens and spatulas for baking to volt-ohm meters (VOMs) and long nose pliers for electrical installation, the implements are meant to help graduates start applying their new skills in making products or performing services.

TESDA’s “highly irregular parking” of over P3 billion in internal funds with another agency – the state-owned Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) – apparently contributed to the delayed delivery of the toolkits, according to Campos, House appropriations committee vice chairperson.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in an earlier report, had reprimanded TESDA for using PITC as depository of funds to skirt accounting and budgetary restrictions and to avoid returning the money to the National Treasury.

“TESDA also had another P2.6 billion in idle funds as of December 2020, apart from the over P3 billion parked with PITC,” Campos said.

“Congress did not give TESDA billions of pesos in fresh funding so that it can shuffle the money between different accounts,” Campos said.

“We gave TESDA the money to be effectively invested in the retooling and upskilling of thousands of Filipino workers dislocated by the COVID-19 crisis, including those returning from abroad, so that they can quickly find new jobs,” Campos pointed out.

“They (TESDA officials) really have a lot of explaining to do before Congress,” Campos said.

Campos and 16 other members of Congress previously filed House Resolution 1394, calling for a probe into TESDA’s “dismal performance” despite incremental funding every year.

In the COA report, TESDA was also rebuked for the “poor outcome” of its P2.1 billion Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) – with less than six of every 100 graduates getting real jobs.

TESDA attributed the problem to its inability to locate many of its graduates, thus the failure to ascertain whether they obtained gainful employment or not.

STEP is supposed to provide community-based skills training opportunities to disadvantaged scholars to improve their employability and productivity.

The program targets mainly victims of calamities, underemployed workers in the informal economy, senior citizens, and members of indigenous and cultural communities. (Vina de Guzman,