SEARCA presents project gains in competency certification for agri workers at high-level meeting
MANILA, Philippines – The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) joins the 4th High Officials Meeting (HOM) on Southeast Asia-Technical and Vocational Education and Training (SEA-TVET) on 4-5 September 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center to present the progress of its project "Towards the Development of Competency Standards of Agricultural Workers in the ASEAN Region."
Based on the agreement during the 3rd HOM on SEA-TVET and as part of the project, SEARCA conducted research on Competency Certification for Agricultural Workers in Southeast Asia that assessed the ASEAN Member States (AMS) in terms of competency standards development and certification for agricultural workers. The research identified gaps, challenges, and recommendations to be addressed by ASEAN and individual AMS. To validate its research findings, SEARCA teamed up with the Philippine Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to conduct a regional workshop on 9-10 May 2018, participated by representatives from the AMS.
The recommendations drawn from said regional workshop were elevated and presented to the 4th HOM on SEA-TVET during the session on TVET regional initiatives for endorsement and information of the high-level meeting. Mr. Bernie S. Justimbaste, TVET expert of the SEARCA project, presented the gains from the workshop.
He said the regional workshop "recognized that the ongoing ASEAN integration is impacting agricultural labor markets in two ways: increasing mobility of waged agricultural workers, and productivity improvement among small farm holders."
"Moreover, it recognized the need to adopt an integrated skills development strategy in the context of lifelong learning. This is because agricultural workers acquire skills and knowledge largely through non-formal and informal learning modes provided by agriculture extension services systems throughout the region," Mr. Justimbaste reported.
He added that the workshop also "recognized that TVET qualifications in the region are prevalently accorded through competency certification systems that are now being integrated into national qualifications frameworks linked to the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) that gives importance to the recognition of non-formal and informal learning."
In view of these, SEARCA advocates that TVET institutions be encouraged to assess and certify skills gained through non-formal and informal modes within a lifelong learning framework to open more opportunities for agriculture workers to improve their skills and get better work opportunities.
SEARCA also recommends strengthening and expanding competency certification systems to recognize non-formal and informal learning by capacitating assessors in TVET institutions, quality assurance of recognition decisions, and using ICT in recognition processes.
Moreover, SEARCA sees the need to push TVET institutions to pursue partnerships with private organizations, nongovernment organizations and farmers' and related associations, professional organizations, and government agencies that are involved in providing agricultural extension services nationwide, as well as in mutual recognition of skills and knowledge of agricultural workers in Southeast Asia.
SEARCA affirms that regional TVET networks and international cooperation initiatives can support and promote strategic discussions and exchange of relevant experiences in TVET's transforming role in recognizing non-formal and informal learning of agricultural workers.
The 4th HOM on SEA-TVET was themed "Moving Together Towards TVET 4.0" in view of the regional trends and issues in TVET development in anticipation of the so-called "Industry 4.0." Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is a "current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies" that includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing.
This year's program focused on regional initiatives and aims to discuss TVET components (e.g., policy curriculum pedagogies, and TVET personnel who will help push Southeast Asian countries to leverage TVET for Industry 4.0). SEARCA moderated the session on best practices towards TVET Industry 4.0.
The meeting was hosted by the Philippine government through TESDA and the Department of Education (DepEd). (Leah Lyn D. Domingo)