The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill which would institutionalize the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF), in order to address job mismatch, and align training and education of Filipino workers with actual industry standards and needs.
Senate Bill No. 1456, or the Philippine Qualifications Framework Act of 2017, was authored and sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva, and was passed with 14 affirmative votes, two negative votes and one abstention.
Villanueva said that the measure was a “big dream of our education sector” that would benefit students and workers, training providers and the government.
“One promise of the PQF is that it could bridge lifelong learning and enhance the link between education and the economy or the labor market. This will put an end to our perennial problem of job-skills mismatch,” the legislator said.
The Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) is defined by the bill as “the national policy which describes the levels of educational qualifications and set the standards for qualification outcomes. It is a quality assured national system for the development, recognition and award of qualifications based on standards of knowledge, skills and values acquired in different ways and methods by learners and workers of a certain country.”
The lawmaker said that under SBN 1456, the PQF would “adopt national standards and levels of learning outcomes of education, and as well as support the development and maintenance of pathways and equivalencies that enable access to qualifications and assist individuals to move easily between the different education and training sectors and the labor market.”
“The PQF will pave the way for every Filipino to become a lifelong learner by allowing him or her to start at the level that suits him or her and then build-up his or her qualifications as his or her needs and interests develop and change over time,” the senator from Bulacan said.
He noted that under the PQF, school curriculums would not be fixed, as these “should correspond to the progress of technology and development of new work especially in Information Technology, Robotics, Logistics, Renewable-Energy, Travel and Hospitality, etc.”
“For our students, the framework provides a clear picture of the competencies they need for the jobs they want while employers can easily identify the competencies their employees must possess,” he added.
To accomplish this, the bill said that training and educational institutions would now have to conform to standards and qualifications set by the Philippine Qualifications Framework-National Coordinating Council (PQF-NCC) mandated to “to harmonize and promote a seamless education and training system.”
The PQF-NCC will be composed of the heads of the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and a representative from the economic sector. The new body will be chaired by the DepEd Secretary.
Villanueva added that the bill would also align the PQF with international qualifications frameworks, such as the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework, which would enhance “recognition of the value and comparability of Philippine qualifications and supporting the mobility of Filipino students and workers.”
He said that the PQF was necessary amid increasing regional integration, and pointed to the endorsement of the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF), which was implemented starting in 2016. The AQRF, he said, “created an impetus to ASEAN member states to develop their own national qualification frameworks.”
“Because of the breakdown of borders and increased labor mobility, there is a high demand for comparability. Due to greater mobility of people – students, workers, professionals are moving, the question is whether their qualifications are also the same as the qualifications of other countries,” Villanueva said.
He said that the over 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) scattered in nearly 170 countries would particularly benefit from the PQF.
“With the help of the PQF, employers will easily see what skills our workers possess, and he or she can show proof of these skills through diplomas or national certificates. In countries with their own qualification frameworks like Singapore, our OFWs can now have their eligibility matched with that of Singaporeans and other foreign workers, and now earn the position, salaries and benefits befitting their status and accomplishments,” Villanueva said.
“In short, the PQF offers a very flexible system where a Filipino can benefit from formal, non-formal and even informal learning opportunities,” he concluded.