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Indigenous folk to get skills.

MANILA -- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) is looking to turn the country's estimated 15 million indigenous peoples (IPs) into skilled workers, opening up better job opportunities for them.

Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva said this would empower the IPs so they would not be left behind with the regional integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) next year.

In last week's Asean conference for IPs organized by Tesda, Villanueva said technicalvocational education and training (TVET) would integrate the sector into the Asean economic community as a skilled work force.

The international conference, held on Nov. 19 and 20, was intended to broaden opportunities for human resource development among IPs who are considered a vulnerable sector.

It focused on TVET preparations for the Asean economic community where the participating countries presented their respective technicalvocational programs for IPs.

Villanueva pointed out that in the rural areas, IPs tended to work as agricultural laborers, while in the urban centers they held informal jobs with neither security of tenure or benefits, including health care.

"Arming them (IPs) with an education, through the TVET, will take them out of this situation and make them skilled and competitive," Villanueva said.

He said that empowering IPs through TVET ahead of the 2015 Asean integrationwhich would entail the free movement of goods, capital and services in the regionwould ensure that the sector would keep up with economic development.

He said that "in this scenario, investment in skilled labor will be one of our key advantages," adding that empowering IPs through TVET must be prioritized so they could beef up the country's skilled manpower and open up employment opportunities for themselves here and abroad."

According to the United Nations Development Program, IPs make up around 15 percent of the country's population, mostly in Northern Luzon and Mindanao.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 23, 2014
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