Are TESDA Graduates Half-Baked? (Need for Licensing for our Skilled Workers)

“TESDA Graduates are half-baked.” For me, these words are a red flag that means something is amiss. My curiosity as to why Mr. Tony Galvez, CEO & President of Tony Galvez School of Cosmetology, can give such a strong statement about TESDA graduates led me to stay and listen to what he has to say about TVET with an open mind.


However, first let’s answer the question, “what makes a technical-vocational education (TVET) graduate “fully baked?” Mr. Galvez showed me this Philippine Qualifications framework (PQF) to explain his point.


What does this PQF mean to TVET?

This PQF  is actually aligned with the K to 12 program. As you can see, graduating from the Grade 12 is equivalent to the National Certificate Level II (NCII). However, Mr. Galvez explains that TVET graduates should not be satisfied with achieving this level of certification only. This is because the NCII level is equivalent only to just the basic certification. There are two more national certification to get the advanced and mastership skills before you are eligible to get a diploma. Currently, TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) only offers up to the NCI and NCII level. There are even crash courses and free courses that last only for weeks which is way below the number of hours and required credits and skills to achieve the basic national certification.



For fellow educators who are reading this, assessment can be very familiar to us. Currently, I am helping my kids prepare for their IGCSEs. After IGSCEs, a student can take their IB before going to college. Such stringent process and investment in education is what makes studying abroad and internationals schools in the country such a privilege. However, we (Filipinos) don’t always have to be the ones left behind.


While listening to Mr. Galvez explain his point I realized where he is coming from. Let me expound on that by sharing an example he gave to us. Let’s say you need plumbing services. Here in the Philippines, you can’t really find a directory of plumbers. The ones we usually see publicly advertised are the plumbers whose advertisements are illegally posted on electric posts which only gives you a number to call. Nobody really knows this plumber or if they are really plumbers. In fact, some people might even think it is unsafe to contact these people because nobody can attest if they can do the job. In addition, if indeed they are plumbers what is your protection as a consumer if let’s say they made a disaster of your pipes? Can you report them if they show unprofessional conduct or can you ask for reimbursement if they damage your property?


Mr. Galvez further explains that if there is a licensing committee that can handle all TVET courses then these kind of problems can be ameliorated because consumer rights can be protected. If a licensed plumber makes a botched work then you can report it to the Plumbing Board and have the questioned plumber’s license revoked. Of course, as a plumber after working hard for your certification e.g. NCI, NCII, NCIII, NCIV and diploma you will be more responsible in making sure that you act professionally to keep your credibility and license.



In the same way that doctors and other licensed practitioners hold their diploma and certification with pride (you can even see it framed on their offices), our skilled workers will also think of their TVET diploma with pride. Hopefully, this will change the stigma that TVET graduates are only skilled workers who did not finish school or not bright enough to go to college or whatever stigma is currently connected with technical-vocational courses (that would be a different blog).


As a parent of a child with special needs, TVET is one of the options usually in our cards when thinking of what our children can do after K to 12. However, there are still parents wary to send their children to TVET because they think that considering TVET for their kids means that they don’t believe their children can make it to the real world. I imagine a conversation going like this: “Let’s just take the easy road without any test and requirements – a course you can take without entrance exams and will just require you to perform a skill).


Mr. Galvez adds that if we improve our TVET to include a licensing board and higher NC levels then we will be the first country in Asia to provide professional certification to TVET similar to what the USA, UK and Canada is doing right now. Currently, getting the first two NC levels here in the Philippines does not qualify a student to proceed to NCIII and higher in other countries because our TVET requirements is not at par to the international standard.


So what do we do? How can we solve this “half-baked” issue for our TESDA or TVET graduates?

I am reposting the additional information attached to Technical Vocational Schools Association of the Philippines- Quezon City proposal entitled



1. Should the PROFESSIONAL REGULATORY AND LICENSING BOARD FOR TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL PROFESSIONS be enacted into law in the country, it will be the 47th to be regulated for licensing by Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and the Philippines would be the first country in Asia to have such regulatory and licensing board. This definitely spell economic gain for the country in terms of quality services, laborers and service-oriented products sector in the country, in addition to attracting more foreign students to study in the Philippines.


2. “Mawawala ang image na baduy ng tech voc”

Licensing would be a morale booster for tech-voc graduates, who through the years have always been considered  second-class citizen in the country’s work force. Mawawala na ang image na baduy at maliit na pagtingin sa sarili: ‘Tech-voc graduate lang kasi ako.’


3. License holders will perform and give services better

With licensed at hand, these skilled workers can perform and give services better, would work with pride in the same way that university graduates  do and would be encouraged to further hone their skills and knowledge. The credential as licensed practitioner will place him/her on the professional ladder.


4. Global standard school facilities, faculty and curriculum

Licensing will encourage tech voc institutions to improve their school. Likewise, key tech voc players and stakeholders in the industry, play the chance to improve their faculty, curriculum and facilities in line with existing global standard to attract enrollees, and thereby bring more business and income for them.


5. Complementary to K to 12 and Asean Integration 2015 

With K to 12, the purpose is for the Philippine Education to be at par with the rest of the world – to become globally competitive. The TVET sectors have to prepare for, and cushions the impact of K to 12 and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Therefore, enhancing the quality of Tech Voc Education is urgent and critical. Poor classroom facilities, lack of tech voc teachers, trainors, assessors and examiners, explain the present state of tech voc education.


6. Give tech voc students chance of succeeding

Most NCII holders from Senior High School Grade 12 are too young to enter the labor force. Emotionally not prepared for employment or enterpreneurship or higher education discipline. Those who do not pursue in getting license to practice would be unproductive, because no advantage of the opportunities for quality market driven education. Meaning: half baked.


Some tech voc graduates in our country are not recognized as professionals abroad because other countries view tech voc training program as insufficient. NCII holders who would like to pursue their tech voc inclinations can still continue until they reach the advanced courses in NCIII and Mastership in NCIV – that will recognize graduates with high esteem and prestige which unfortunately, is accorded only to university courses. With appropriate license, they wouldn’t be treated as mere laborers, but professional skill workers. Philippines wouldn’t be regarded as the nation of servants.


These are real issues that need to be addressed soon. While still campaigning, our president promised ten specific actions to transform Philippine education. I heard and saw him with my own two ears and eyes mention the same thing during the enactment of the Kindergarten law. It was also the first time I saw the current TESDA Secretary Joey Villanueva. He even mentioned at that time that he is taking a TESDA course and even joked that his TESDA certificate is his fall back just in case something happens to his job.


And so I raise this question to our government and concerned government bodies: What will do knowing that are TVET graduates are half-baked? Are we just going to ignore this or are we going to act on it? Take note the pronoun I used here is “we”. This is our country and we hold the solution to our problems.


I would like to hear from you.


For your comments, questions and reactions, feel free to post a comment below.

16 Commentsto Are TESDA Graduates Half-Baked? (Need for Licensing for our Skilled Workers)

  1. Pauline says:

    Hi Teacher Ia! I’m new to the site and since I’m interested in both children and education, find this piece very intriguing..
    I’m not well-versed with the state and needs of our current vocational schools, but am well aware of parents of special needs kids’ initial doubt re the vocational course as the track to take after formal ed.
    Some thoughts:
    >>I agree that a regulatory board for our tech-voc schools is necessary. It’s insurance for both potential employers and students of the courses themselves that their course is not an afterthought but a valid career option that carries its own expectations and criteria. The tricky part is to walk the balance between its being “inclusive” (as it’s marketed now as ‘anyone can join and canafter a few years, be licensed to do honest work’) vs being “exclusive” (which is what a regulatory board essentially does – it creates clear-cut borders). Maybe the terms and my context are wrong, but I hope you get my meaning.
    >> Re PRC creating a board for tech-voc schools and its translation into higher quality services and global standards? maybe. but also maybe not. I have long thought that PRC has become too big for its own good. Inconsistencies and loopholes exist where there shouldnt be — and this may be because of the sheer responsibility they have but also makes us think. An external body (like PrC) may help in creating the high-quality, respected environment we would like for tech-voc schools and graduates but it’s not enough. So, what will be?

    My sister is a teacher and even she can’t answer my (makulit) ques abt K-12 and what it means for the future of Pinoy kids. I’m very interested, and am actually thinking of taking up a second degree just to be formally involved.
    Thanks for all the interesting posts, Teacher Ia!
    I regularly scour the net for local educ-related articles like this, but I don’t come across well-informed posts like yours everyday.

    • Teacher ia says:

      Hi Pauline,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and really think about this education-related issue our country is facing.

      I also thought about your question. If you asked me about K to 12, will I be able to answer you satisfactorily? Before I thought I did but I am not very sure now. I think I need to keep abreast with the changes especially in the curriculum.

      Since TVET is going to be part of K to 12, like you I would really want to hear DepEd and TESDA’s opinion about the quality of TVET here in the Philippines.

  2. Teacher ia says:

    As of today, I have left private Facebook messages on the fan page of Secretary Joel Villanueva and TESDA. I am really looking forward to a response.

    • Daryll says:

      He replied from my retweet from this article, “RT Are TESDA Graduates Half-Baked? @secjoelv RESPONSE needed #Tuwidnadaan #BossAngBayan #DrivenSyndic8″

      Responses made by @secjoelv on my feed:
      “@GreenDei wish ive more space to ans but
      1.PQF has 5 levels on TVET (nc1-diploma)
      2.Tesda is mandated by law to certify TVET qualifications.
      3.assessment & certification of TESDA is ISO certified
      4.licensing board being proposed isnt d response to half baked graduates
      5.Tesda registers programs acdg to standards develop ed by industry. programs are regularly audited to ensure compliance. Thx!”

      • Teacher ia says:

        Hello Daryll,

        I saw his tweets to you and me. Basically he said the same thing. Still, if he needs more space to explain TESDA’s position, he is more than welcome to respond to this post. Mr. Galvez’s proposal sounds plausible but our good secretary (based from his concise tweet) is sayng that “licensing board being proposed isnt d response to half baked graduates”. If licensing is not the solution, what is it?

        I am assuming that the response to this question is not a simple black and white answer that is why I am hoping that our TESDA secretary can expound on his position. I think that is just the responsible thing to do.

  3. Maria Susan P. Dela Rama says:

    Mr. Tony Galvez may need to be enlightened on a lot of things that he mentioned about TESDA. Being a board member of the TEVSAPHIL, the association of TVET Institutions, he should very well know this.

    • Mr. Tony Galvez made statements while already having considered those facts. As far as innovative thinking is concerned, he has been enlightened. However, I can expect that he will be countered by those who oppose/resist change, or those who promote stagnation. My statement regarding the matter can be read in my previous lengthy comment. I am open to discussion. This topics warrants a platform for exchange of ideas.

    • ARTHY ALWAYS says:

      Techvoc licensing: Can it improve the labor market?

      TechVoc licensing in light of the 2014 Korea mission

      After TEVSAPHIL’s visit to Global Institute for Transferring Skills, I realized more the need for Techvoc licensing in the Philippines. Here are some talking points based on questions and issues raised on social media.

      1. Are TESDA graduates half-baked?

      Let us first define what the term “half-baked” means. as expressions go, this term is one with a two-fold meaning. When referring to graduates, it can simply mean that they are not ready for the work that they were trained for. It implies that their “baking” process was not sufficient to mold them into a highly competent individual in the labor market.

      So can we say that TESDA graduates are half-baked?
      The fact that one even has to ask the question implies the existence of such situation. This inquiry, though brings up another inquiry. How do we know if Manang Joselita is a good housekeeper? Are there standards by which to measure her abilities? Was she formally assessed at the end of her training by a body/ institution other than the school itself? Was she granted or deprived of an official document (license) as a result of that assessment, if there ever was one?

      Now, what are the indicators of a graduate’s competence? As of today, only feedbacks from companies and clients provide performance reports of TechVoc grads. The fact that one cannot say for sure how “baked” these graduates are, means that there is lack of a regulatory board or assessment of their skills. One way to ensure that these students are qualified for the jobs, is for them to be granted licenses depending on the level of their skills.

      2. Does this mean that TESDA is incompetent?
      NO. I am not from TESDA nor TEVSAPHIL but I don’t think TESDA is incompetent. The job of TESDA is to assess the quality of schools at a certain regularity. In this regard, TESDA has been doing its job. However, this government body is not enough to ensure that the graduates are highly equipped with skills. Many times, schools fail to sustain their quality after having been assessed by TESDA. This failure can be attributed to the schools’ failure to conform with the standards. This only means that TESDA is essential, but is in need of a partner group or accompanying measure that can be provided by another group or institution. This can come in the form of a license granting qualifications exam.

      3. Is TechVoc licensing the answer to half-baked graduates?

      Others may say that it may still be too early to know. However, there are several indicators that is inclined to imply the need for licensing:

      As pointed out by previous interviews such as that of Tony Galvez, licensing affects the quality of services that a TESDA graduate can provide. An instance that can immediately make the need of licensing evident would be when one needs an electrician, many complain that those they hired through ads plastered on lamp posts either fail to fulfill the job or steal parts of the machines. But to whom can they report this? How can they ensure that these incompetent electricians will be stopped from victimizing others? As of now, they cannot be reported nor monitored because they are not listed officially. They don’t have licenses. If these people have licenses, they will make sure that their job performances conform or even exceed expectations because they have licenses they are careful to retain. They would be wary of providing half-baked services at the risk of their licenses being revoked.

      Effects of licensing

      For the TESDA graduate:
      It will be easier for them to find jobs
      Sense of professionalism – licensed jobs exude a professional image no matter how menial these may be.
      Note: many TechVoc skills are not menial
      They will work harder to ensure that their performance is always at best because there is a board regulating and monitoring their services. Licensing comes hand-in-hand with a regulatory board.
      If trainees fail the license granting qualifications exam, they will improve themselves for the retake. But if they are aware that there is such exam at the end of their training in the first place, they will make sure they listen and perform well during training itself because the goal of passing the exam lies ahead.
      Due to a number of factors indirectly and directly affected by licensing, salaries of licensed workers will increase

      For the clients/employers:
      They will be assured that the employees and service providers they hire are competent and have good attitude (EQ assessment shall be part of the qualifications exam)

      For TESDA accredited schools/ training centers:
      The image and reputation of TESDA education will be raised. There will be a a surge of enrollees because the law that requires licensing will require companies to outsource and train their employees in these schools to acquire the necessary license.

      For the Philippine labor market:
      Effects on employment rate remains to be seen but the framework of this proposition implies that there will be a decrease in underemoyment which will.eventual decrease unemployment. Hard to fill jobs will be filled. Enrollment in low-quality colleges will decrease. Enrollees in high quality TESDA schools will increase. schools will be challenged to provide the best quality of education because they know that their training will remain futile if their trainees cannot pass thr qualification exams for licensing. It can be attributed to the principle that potential nursing students tend to enroll in schools with the highest production of board passers. The same way that potential TechVoc trainees tend to enroll in schools with high rate of producing license holding graduates.

      4. How can this be implemented?

      This can only be implemented if there is a law stating that people can only work if they have a license for it. Free training can be provided by NGOS and the companies/employers themselves who want to hire TechVoc competent individuals.

      TESDA: can increase qualification criteria for schools,
      Propose licensing to legislators
      NGOS and advocates: launch campaigns for this legislation through social media, awareness talks/ public briefing, petition

      5. What will happen to those who are already employed but do not have licenses?

      This may cause some to worry about their jobs but the law proposed for this nationwide licensing shall require employers to train their employees and help them acquire licenses once the law has been passed. They are not allowed to terminate employees within the first 5 years of the passing of the law for the reason that they do not have licenses. Within the first 5 years of the law enforcement, obtaininh licenses for their employees providing TechVoc services is their responsibility.

      6. If the purpose of the Korea educational visit is to compare and adapt measures and policies, why must the Philippines pursue licensing? Korea does not have licensing for TechVoc skills.

      It is true that they neither grant nor require liscenses. However, this is because they don’t see that they need it yet. They have a national qualifications exam that does not grant licenses. However, their system is not a template that we can simply lift and “copy”. Korea and the Philippines are made up of different building blocks. As of today, the Global Institute for Transferring Skills and the Human Resources Development is sufficient to regulate their Techvoc labor market. Our country requires licensing because the need has arisen. If we start it, we will be the pioneer of such system. This mechanism is an adaptation of the operational framework of GIFTS, not an imitation. If our system and institutions are not enough to solve the problem, this means that we must go beyond what we have.

      5. But isn’t this risky? Licensing has never been done in Asia before.

      “Those who survive are not the strongest, but those who respond well to change.” – Charles Darwin

      “you cannot solve a problem with the same mind
      That was used to create the problem.” – Albert Einstein

      “a ship cannot discover new lands if does not lose sight of the shore.”

      What are these great figures telling us? The only way for us to move forward is to extend our perspectives beyond our comfort zones. We must leave the familar behind.
      Korea did the unthinkable in order to progress. We shall do the same not because we are merely emulating their policies, but because we know there is truth in them

      The president of GIFTS stated that skills must be the new global currency. In order to make this happen, licensing must be implemented.

      6. A working discussion board is ideal to further explore this matter.

  4. Teacher ia says:

    I would love to have a working discussion board Arthy. I think the need for an education discussion board is already turning to be a must.

    • ARTHY ALWAYS says:

      As a TechVoc Advocate we and Cess Dalmas are willing to make it this far!

      • Teacher ia says:

        Thanks for the support Arthy and Cess. Just an update, Mr. Tony Galvez has asked to meet with me to talk about the comments. I have also compiled the tweets of Secretary Joey Villanueva to make sure both sides are represented. I will be updating this blog post soon to reflect the comments of both parties.

        • TM1 holder EIM NCII says:

          I would like to help teacher i a. I am an accredited TESDA instructor at hindi naman po sa pagmamalaki, marami po akong alam na maseselang issues hindi lang po sa mga pamamaraan ng TESDA sa mga graduates nila kundi pati na rin po sa mga maseselang issues na nangyayari mismo sa loob ng TESDA. Like Arthy, I am willing to make it this far para maiaddress ang mga issues at problema na hindi mawala wala sa puder ng TESDA. TESDA is a good government project, ang problema lang ay ang mga ganid at incompetent persons na nagpapalakad dito.

  5. Joel Fagsao says:

    I have read this post and the answers to the issues raised. Allow me to share my views as head of a tech-voc institution. Our school offers a full two year tech voc course- Computer Hardware Services Technician. Because of a policy shift during the time of Secretary Syjuco we were told by TESDA that the course offerings will now be measured in hours. And so, our current permit to offer the two year course is listed as 320 hours. Despite this, we continued to offer our program for two years duration. As a result of this policy, students who want to avail of the tuition assistance called PESFA (from TESDA) was only good for a half semester. Many of our students no longer were interested to apply for the tuition subsidy or discontinued schooling. In short PESFA was also aligned to recommended standard number of hours as TESDA or those who developed the curriculum sees it. Would an institution hire someone who has gone on a certain number of hours of training? The thing with TESDA is that the so called nominal duration (offering a course in a certain number of hours) has been implemented across all skills training programs. Thus we have a situation where we have ‘thousands’ of students in this skills or that skills – graduating, but how about the employment? As far as my community is concerned, no institution has been hiring a computer technician graduate of a course that trained for a certain number of hours. This policy shift should have been on a course basis. It should not be about the number of graduates, it should be about the quality of the graduates and in our case- a fresh high school graduate to fully prepare him or her in the job market shall not take a course which is counted in hours only. Now that the senior high school program will soon be offered how will this TESDA policy merge with Dep Ed’s?

    An NCII is not a guarantee to employment. There are still many factors, count in the attitude, the skill, the experience. There is also no “concrete” grievance mechanism to those who believe that they deserve to have passed the NC exams. In our community you have a situation wherein an assessor for a driving skill will assess drivers who have longer years of experience as a driver over that of the assessor. And why be assessed for driving NC when you already have a driver’s license?

    Our school stopped offering the household service course when after our graduates applied in a job placement agency, they were made to pay for a similar training despite their having an NCII. I formally reported this to the TESDA authorities and nothing happened. I also wrote Secretary Villanueva questioning why is it that prior to the issuance of a Special Order by TESDA, graduates of private tech voc institutions must take the NCII examinations first. I see it this way, when a student has finished all the requirements of the course as provided for in a curriculum approved by TESDA, why should he or she be deprived of an SO to graduate? Same with a student in a college program. They are allowed to graduate after having completed all the requirements of the program. The point is, shouldn’t a graduate be allowed to decide to take the National Certification exam when he or she deems she is ready to take it?



  8. I’m also a Tesda NC2 holder Massage Therapist. To the best of my knowledge studying skills at Tesda for employment is ok. What I question is the conduct of some. I recently filed a police blotter at CID Pasay against Hermes Vittorio A. Gacutan Hairdresser & Make-up Artist by profession. Hairdresser NC2 License 14130202004036 YEAR TAKEN :2014
    I filed a police blotter (6/20/16) in behalf of cyber harassment(RA 10627).
    This man is a homosexual a former customer of my shop.
    He bought Constant love lip gloss in my online shop.
    I delivered the goods via JRS Express and he received the purchased item.
    Though his purchased product is a Constant Lip Gloss Non Aphrodisiac Charisma Enhancer.
    For cosmetic purpose of beautification via complementary healing: Reiki.
    What I can’t stand is he kept on consulting me about his medical condition.
    If I can cure him of his HIV + infection and do a ritual for his ex-boyfriend to return.
    He even gave me a laboratory copy of his HIV Rapid Test result(medical records withheld. Will show only in court)
    He is also intervening with my catechetical duty(protect the cultural heritage of the church: priesthood & Nunnery Vocation)of reporting a Con Artist, Swindler & Extortionist posing as
    Catholic Priest. I believe he has nothing to do with that. He should not meddle with my catechetical affairs.
    Accusing me also of doing something to them .
    Saying that I’m “crazy” to my Group: Inner Mind. Some rude Sms Messages(6/15/16 to 6/18/16) & Missed Calls.
    Scandalizing my online shop “Regina Cieli’s Art Shop” with some comments that should be there. This my place of business with Dti permit & as an owner basic membership recognition from THAI(Thai Healing Alliance International) in my name. I have plenty of clents who are public figures. I’m busy with my own business and new found Massage Therapist Association “Haplos Pilipinas” recognized basic member of T.H.A.I. (Thai Healing Alliance International) owned by Tesda Hi Mas Specialista Mam Cawili.
    Website Address: fb:
    He is a Hairdresser and Make-up Artist NC2 License Holder. Not a Psychiatrist.
    Is this a proper conduct of a Tesda Graduate/NC2 License Holder?
    I’m also from Lsi-Tesda I’m proud of what I achieved.
    I love my Japanese and Culture Certificate and NC2 Massage Therapist Certificate.
    A Reiki Master/Teacher License Holder with Lineage and Non-teaching catechist from ICAM San Gregorio Seminary Complex.
    I believe as a Tesda Graduate I should always do good and bring honor to my family and colleagues.

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