Poverty Reduction and TVET



“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime (Chinese proverb).”


Joblessness is at the core of extreme poverty in the country today.  Poor people without jobs will remain poor.

The National Statistics Office estimated the unemployment rate in 2010 at around 8% (12.6% in Metro Manila), almost twice the level of our neighboring countries; while half of all Filipinos today self-rate themselves as either poor or subsistence poor.  The government response of distributing cash assistance to “qualified” poor families to “alleviate” poverty (totalling PhP21.2 Billion in the 2011 General Appropriations Act), despite its good intentions, may eventually amount to the old Chinese proverb:  “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day…”  A more strategic investment for such a huge sum of public fund could have been:  “… Teach a man to  fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  


TVET (technical-vocational education and training) is the “better half” of job creation.  It prepares the trainees for jobs that are related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation.  It helps individuals to gain access to good jobs and escape poverty and marginalization.  The challenge is for government and business to “join hands” and invest in the future of TVET through publicly funded training organizations, “dualized trainings” and expanded scholarship program, on the part of government, and subsidized apprenticeship or trainership initiatives on the part of business.

TVIs (technical-vocational institutions) should be encouraged to do more “partnered trainings” with LGUs (local government units), as well as  non government organizations abroad.  Business-owned TVIs (e.g. the training centers of the Meralco Foundation, Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, San Miguel Corporation, etc.) should also be encouraged (and provided with incentives) to take in more “external” trainees on scholarship grant.

As the labor market becomes more specialized and the economy demands higher levels of skill, TVIs must respond accordingly with their programmes, training content, faculty development and teaching instrumentation.  TVIs and business must regularly meet to determine and project current and future skill demand and enhance the employability of graduates.

Career guidance and placement services within the school campus also help increase the chances of graduates landing a job, particularly those from less privileged families.

The role of government in the TVET Sector is to regulate and enable.  It must ensure the delivery of quality and responsive TVET through regulation and at the same time provide policies, programs and incentives that will enable private TVIs and stakeholders to deliver quality and responsive TVET.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the TVET authority in the country, should do more of its “development” and “authority” functions and leave the “training” function to the private sector.

 TVET underpins the fundamental values of society:  equity, dignity, non-descrimination, social responsibility and participation.  The economy and society at large become more productive and competitive with more skilled human resources.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published o5 March 2011


TVET photos

Automotive mechanic training  

Culinary arts training

Lathe operator training

Marine diesel engine mechanic training

Welding technology training