THE Special Employment Training Program (STEP), a P2.1 billion initiative of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) that was supposed to address skills-to-job mismatch is in big trouble.
Government auditors, in a report released last November 9, said the employment rate of graduates under the program missed the target set by Tesda – by a mile.
Tesda’s projection says at least 65 percent of STEP’s graduates are supposed to find jobs but as of December 31, 2019, the number stood at an embarrassing 5.64 percent.
These are the real numbers: Tesda got allocations to train 137,522 scholars but only 111,333 enrolled – a 19 percent difference.
Of those that underwent the trainings 75,004 stayed and finished the courses. The other 36,329 or 32.63 percent fell by the wayside.
Assessment further trimmed the number down to 45,123 while trade suitability certification tests shaved off more, leaving just 43,469.
Of the certified ready-to-work scholars, only 2,451 ended up with real jobs.
Comparing the number of trainees who found work against the enrollment total gives an even bleaker number – for every 100 enrolled, only two were eventually employed.
Auditors noted that STEP is supposed to benefit those who come from the disadvantaged sectors – informal sector wage earners, senior citizens, victims of calamities, and members of indigenous people and cultural communities.
Allocation of the STEP scholarship fund is determined by the allocation plan submitted by each region, province or district based on absorptive capacity, available opportunities, presence of new and emerging industries, and key employment generators in the locality.
Metro Manila got the biggest slice of the budget pie with P175.814 million for training and another P167.468 million for tool kits.
Region 3 (Central Luzon) came in second with P126.362 million for training and P100 million for kits.
According to the 2019 Physical Accomplishment Report submitted by Tesda, both regions posted zero employment for their scholars.