The local government of Ozamiz City has reiterated its offer to neighboring localities to consider partnering with it in pursuing technical and vocational education (tech-voc) as a long-term strategy to address poverty.
Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez said that based on the city government’s experience, developing and successfully nurturing an effective tech-voc program is a tricky and challenging task that would require persistence.
“Our neighbor localities can choose to learn from our experience and we will be honored to help them,” said Parojinog-Echavez.
She cited the success of the local government’s Skills Training and Employment Program for Upliftment of the People of Ozamiz or STEP-UP Ozamiz.
The program consists of four components: holding short-term job-directed skills trainings, providing tech-voc scholarship for high school graduates; operation of the local government-owned tech-voc school; and a credible post-training job placement that connects trained individuals to opportunities in the market for skilled labor.
When it started in June 2002, then known as Bag-ong Ozamiznon Program, it was only granting scholarships. The program grew through the years in response to the expanding challenge of enhancing the poor youth’s employability for better paying jobs.
“In 10 years, we produced some 1,800 tech-voc trained individuals. Through our placement program, many of them got jobs that earn wages way above the legal minimum,” Parojinog-Echavez noted.
Within the same period, the local government spent P5 million, a large portion of which goes to operating and improving the instructional facilities of the local government-run Ozamiz City Technical and Vocational School (OCTAVS).
OCTAVS was created to take the place of the post-secondary program offered by the Ozamiz City School of Arts and Trade (OCSAT) run by the Department of Education (DepEd). The program was scrapped in school year 2005-2006 in compliance of 1998 DECS Memorandum No. 125 that mandated the phase-out of non-basic education programs.
Since opening its doors in July 2006, OCTAVS has produced over 1,600 tech-voc graduates, mostly poor youth from the city although some also come from neighboring localities.
“The linchpin of any tech-voc skills development program is an available tech-voc school where the skills of beneficiaries on various fields will be honed,” Parojinog-Echavez stressed.
“For our neighboring localities, they may not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and set up their own tech-voc school. OCTAVS can provide them a low-cost option for a partner school,” she added.
“By partnering with OCTAVS, they can avail of our top-notch job placement performance,” she assured.
Based on official statistics, the city’s Public Employment Services Office (PESO) has placed some 1,871 applicants in various jobs in the country and abroad during the first half of 2012. The PESO acts as job placement arm of OCTAVS.
“We wanted to share this successful model of a cost-efficient tech-voc skills development program to other local governments in the country. That is why we submitted STEP-UP Ozamiz as entry in the 2012 Galing Pook Awards,” disclosed Parojinog-Echavez.
STEP-UP Ozamiz seeks to address the skills inadequacy of the city’s labor force, especially the youth, due to inability to pursue higher studies upon graduating from high school.
Lacking in skills, they end up holding low-paying odd and menial jobs, making difficult their escape from poverty.