Free online courses to upgrade skills of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), others

BAGUIO CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in the Cordillera said its 68 courses available online can provide new skills or upgrade the skills of the 513 initial overseas Filipino worker (OFW) returnees.  

Engr. Manuel Wong, TESDA-CAR regional director, said the OFWs can take advantage of the TESDA Online Program (TOP) to prepare them for local employment or livelihood, as well as equip them with skills for a new venture if they decide to return abroad. 

“Libre po ito mula sa gobyerno (this is given free by the government),” he said over the weekend. Wong said TESDA drum beat the promotion of the TOP during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to make people busy while locked in their homes. “It will en-skill and re-skill our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) which they might be able to use because the jobs they had before the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) are no longer relevant,” he said. 

Wong said there are 68 skills and trade courses they can choose from which were results of the virtual consultation with OFWs around the world to determine the preferred skills of the returning OFWs in order to match their employment or self-employment needs. 

TESDA’s TOP program was launched in 2012 to cater to OFWs and others who are unable to undergo face-to-face training. “When it was developed, it was aimed to reach out especially to overseas workers to improve their skills, but with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, it became more relevant,” Wong said. 

Aside from OFWs, he also urged displaced workers to enroll and get additional skills. OFWs need to fill-up an online form indicating their personal and professional information, location on their return to the country, and the skills training they need. 

The 68 online programs include those in agriculture, automotive, electrical and electronics, massage therapy, entrepreneurship, information and communications technology, tourism, bread and pastry production, preparation and cooking of meals, housekeeping, among others. 

Wong suggested skills related to agriculture because it is always relevant; “Build, Build, Build” or skills related to construction; health care services frontline skills; and any skill related to transportation or automotive. He said enrollees can complete the modules at their own pace, thus accommodating practically everybody to enroll and get a new skill or upgrade a skill. 

A certificate of training will be given when they complete the module. Enrollees can also apply for a National Certification, a document of competency recognized by foreign countries. Wong said since the launching of the TOP, an accumulated 1.46 million have already enrolled in different programs. The TOP website,, can also be accessed through the TESDA App, downloadable from Google Play and Apple Store, Aid to returning OFWs.

Meanwhile, the collaboration between government agencies has provided assistance to 513 returning OFWs for the month of May. During the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction meeting last week, Edgar Laigo of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA–CAR) said the OFWs were provided with transportation for their return to their hometown in CAR. 

Of the total, 213 are from Baguio City, 114 from Benguet, 85 from Abra, 23 from Apayao, 29 from Ifugao, 32 from Kalinga and 17 from Mountain Province. Aside from transportation assistance, OFWs were also provided temporary shelter, food packs and health kits. Laigo said financial assistance to Covid-19–affected OFWs continue through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-led “Abot-Kamay Ang Pagtulong” program (AKAP). 

AKAP is a component of the “Bayanihan We Heal as One Act” that provides a one-time PHP10,000 cash subsidy to qualified beneficiaries. As of June 2, a total of 2,806 Cordillera OFWs have applied for the AKAP financial assistance, and PHP17.92 million already disbursed to 1,792 qualified beneficiaries. The 849 applications are under process. (PNA)

By Liza Agoot and Dionisio Dennis, Jr.