/ 23 February 2021

SENATOR JOEL Villanueva is optimistic that the country will soon have an empowered workforce once the measure that requires tertiary education institutions and technical-vocational training institutes to integrate labor education subjects in their general education curriculum is enacted into law.

The Senate on Monday approved on 3rd and final reading Senate Bill 1513 or the proposed Labor Education Act. The measure is a consolidated version of several bills filed by Senators Ramon ‘Bong’  Revilla Jr., Manuel ‘Lito’  Lapid and Villanueva.

“We are one step closer to an empowered workforce, one where both employer and employee are informed of their respective rights under the law. Sa ganitong paraan, mababawasan po natin ang mang-aabuso at maaabuso, dahil alam ng isa’t isa ang karapatan nila bilang negosyante at manggagawa,” Villanueva, head of the Senate committee on higher and technical and vocational education, said.

The senator said that around 700,000 students graduate from higher educational institutions every year.  However, these students have little knowledge of their labor rights and access to legal aid or assistance, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

Villanueva said equipping students with a basic knowledge on labor laws would help protect them from violation of their rights such as the right to security of tenure, minimum wages, premium pay in case of overtime, holiday work and night time work, among others.

“At present, the regions that have the highest number of students enrolled in higher education institutions are also the regions where establishments record dismal compliance to labor laws. Unfortunately, there is no clear core subject in the higher, technical, and vocational education sectors where labor education is comprehensively covered,” he lamented.

He said the enactment of SBN 1513 into law would ensure that every Filipino worker would be aware of his or her rights.

Under the bill, HEIs and tech-voc training institutes shall hold a Labor Empowerment and Career Guidance conference which graduating students shall attend.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, shall develop appropriate modules of instructions and other relevant materials relating to labor education and shall encourage all technical and vocational school nationwide to integrate labor education in their curriculum.

The Commission on Higher Education and TESDA shall review the coverage and quality of labor education courses offered in HEIs and technical and vocational schools.

“This measure seeks to integrate labor education in the tertiary education and in technical and vocational education and training curriculum so that before students join the labor force, they are equipped with the basic understanding of laborers’ rights and privileges,” Revilla said in his co-sponsorship speech.

“The more knowledge they have of labor practices and relations, rights and privileges, history and empowerment, the better they will be equipped as contributors to productivity and drivers of the national economy in general,” he added.