What is Vocational Education?

29 Feb 2024
Vocational Education

The skill and learning gap is ever-apparent in today’s scenario, wherein Industry 4.0 has led to a surge in specific skill-based jobs. On the other hand, employees and organisations are always on the lookout for proficient individuals.

That is where many graduates fall short because they lack the relevant knowledge and skills to function effectively in challenging work scenarios. Is there a solution? How can students have a bright future? The answer lies in technical vocational education and training (TVET), which enables them to attain proficiency in varied fields.

What is Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)?

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is a specialized education programme that comprises skills and knowledge development. Students get the opportunity to train in a wide range of production services, occupational fields, and livelihoods.

Furthermore, the programme enables learners to get access to resources, curriculum, training, and upskilling opportunities. Also, TESDA (the Technical Education and Skills Development Agency) plays an instrumental role in facilitating quality education in the Philippines.

It is a government agency that is responsible for implementing policies and programmes that build students’s competencies and enhance their employability. Moreover, it addresses several issues that affect employability and education in the country, which are as follows:

Significant Issues

Vocational Education

1. Rapidly Changing Demands for Skills

The economic structure of the Philippines has witnessed considerable change in the past decade. For instance, a declining share of agricultural and elementary occupations and a rise in demand for high- and middle-skill occupations are most evident.

Likewise, a shift from labour-intensive to capital-intensive production across manufacturing industries reflects a modern trend. On the other hand, middle-skill groups witnessed an increase in job demands due to manufacturing and construction’s rapid growth.

2. The Necessity of Reskilling and Upskilling

Increased globalisation and Industry 4.0 have disrupted the nature of work and the overall employment sector. Skill-based technological operations and trade have led to an increased demand for highly skilled workers. Also, organisations will automate or offshore occupations with higher-routine tasks.

Although these trends have led to rapid employment growth in the IT-BPO sector, they may have a different impact in the future. Recent studies suggest the substitution of workers by technology in the BPO and electronics manufacturing sectors.

Meanwhile, there would be a shift from routine to non-routine and analytical work, leading to an increase in competent and skilled workers. It’s one of the signifying factors of education 4.0 which emphasizes competency building for in-demand skills including technical and IT skills, critical thinking, adaptive learning, and complex problem-solving.

3. Non-Linear Career Paths

Studying with the aim of succeeding in a particular field is the conventional approach; however, the current and future trends indicate uncertainties. Therefore, workers must be able to move across industries and occupations. They must have the skills to navigate non-linear career paths.

That is why all education and skill development systems must facilitate flexible pathways between formal education’s different levels and lifelong learning. Hence, TVET must provide appropriate vocational education to impart transferable skills.

Consequently, it will help prepare students for entry-level jobs and career paths, allowing them to transition between jobs that require similar capabilities. Hence, narrowly defined competencies are no longer relevant.

On the contrary, schools must instill foundational and transversal skills early in the educational process while emphasising them throughout post-secondary and tertiary education.

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4. Ineffective Training

TESDA has made a considerable contribution to the education industry over the years, but several issues have been raised in light of education 4.0. For example, unsettled issues of devolution of its direct training function and resource constraints.

Moreover, the lack of sufficient resources impacts the ability to provide up-to-date facilities and trained faculty. On the other hand, technology competency assessor shortages and lengthy processes to develop standard assessment tools affect the ability to provide services.

Insufficient industry engagement significantly impacts TESDA’s ability to respond to changing private sector demand for skills.

5. Redefining its Authority

One of the primary challenges of TESDA is to redefine its role as the TVET authority in light of the fast-changing environment. The limitation of its organisational resources is a critical factor that it must take into consideration.

In fact, they must address issues of limited resources and qualified personnel and their direct training function. Simultaneously, the government agency must move beyond the confines of bureaucratic space and highlight the principles of modern learning organisations.

6. Training Job Mismatches

Skills mismatch reduces the chances of TVET graduates securing employability and reflects their inability to provide updated training curricula. Simultaneously, it also reflects ineffective course offerings and training equipment.

On the other hand, the most effective programmes in terms of training and job matching are usually non-routine and manual in nature. Also, experts have identified these programmes as having lower-productivity jobs and lower wages.

7. Focus on Entry-Level Skills Development

NC, or National Certification, is a certificate that TESDA awards to students who complete a course and training in specific subjects. There are different levels of certification, namely NC II, NC II, NC III, and NC IV.

NC I and NC II indicate entry-level skills, whereas NC III and NC IV reflect specialised skills and competencies in varied areas. However, a recent study that the office of Senator Sherwin Gatchalion published indicates that a mere 31 percent prepares learners for NC level IV.

Only a limited number of students enrol in NC III and NC IV, which entail training in high-demand skills and a wide range of activities.

TVET’s Role in Educating and Upskilling Filipinos

The Training and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme is of four types, which are:

  • School-based
  • Centre-based
  • Business-based
  • Community-based

Fifty-seven TESDA-administered schools and sixty training centres are responsible for implementing high-quality training programs. Additionally, enterprise-based training through DTS apprenticeships and community-based training by collaborating with LGUs also facilitate these programmes.

TESDA Training Provision

TESDA Technology Institutions (TTIs) comprise 125 schools and regional, provincial, and specialised training centres nationwide that facilitate training activities. These TTIs serve as venues to assess new training schemes, and institutes also use them as laboratories for new technologies.

TESDA addresses the inherent issues discussed above and aims to foster local technical-vocational education and training. Some of the crucial initiatives and strategic steps that the agency has taken are as follows:

  • TESDA has formalised its five-year partnership with technology corporation giant Microsoft, which will help facilitate quality technical education and skill development.
  • Close collaboration between TESDA, the Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education to strengthen institutional mechanisms for coordination and policy setting, particularly in the aftermath of K–12.
  • Expanding TESDA’s role in the senior high school TVL track programme aligning with lifelong learning of education 4.0.
  • CHED and TESDA’s Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 implements the Philippine Credit Transfer System.
  • The credit system allows students to move from a vocational course to a college degree programme with the help of the credit transfer mechanism.
  • Enhancing Industry 4.0 preparedness by supporting TVIs in imparting technical and soft skills that complement the latest technology.


Technical vocational education and training (TVET) programmes are integral to upskilling and reskilling Filipinos. However, there are inherent issues in terms of organisational resources and devolving TESDA’s training function. Additionally, improving financial management and optimising the use of funds are some other concerns.

Therefore, the agency has implemented notable campaigns in recent years to provide high-quality technical education and training. At the same time, it has worked towards resolving varied issues.

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Poonam Nathani Author :

Poonam Nathani,

Academic Consultant

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