SEARCA pushes agri workers' certification

  • 21 September 2018

Source: The Manila Times
21 Sep 2018

A RECENT study shows the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration is impacting agricultural labor markets in two ways: increasing mobility of waged agricultural workers; and productivity improving among smallholder farmers.

According to the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), this was among the findings of a research on competency certification for agricultural workers in Southeast Asia that it conducted.

SEARCA said its finding was presented during the 4th High Officials Meeting (HOM) on Southeast Asia-Technical and Vocational Education and Training (SEA-TVET) on September 4-5, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.

Hosted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Education (DepEd), the regional forum was attended by high-level education officials from the Southeast Asian countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

SEARCA presented findings of its research that assessed Southeast Asian countries in terms of competency standards development and certification for agricultural workers that were validated in a regional workshop co-organized with TESDA last May.

"The regional workshop recognized the need to adopt an integrated skills development strategy in the context of lifelong learning," Bernie Justimbaste, TVET expert of the SEARCA project, said at the high-level meeting.

"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," he added.

He said the workshop has 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). AQRF gives importance to the recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

With these, SEARCA said TVET institutions should 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.

By capacitating assessors in TVET institutions, quality assurance of recognition decisions and using ICT in recognition processes, SEARCA also recommends strengthening and expanding competency certification systems to recognize non-formal and informal learning.