Focus Area: Vocational Education and Labor Market Development

Cacao Pro

The agricultural sector of the Philippines comprises 30% of the workforce and about 12 million people. Challenges from resource depletion, social exclusion and lack of access to technology among others, continue to affect the worsening agro-economic trend in the country. Given this, the national roadmap for the cocoa sector has been set to increase production tenfold, providing sustainable incomes for as many as 130,000 Filipino farmers.


Capacitating Cacao Farmers in Mindanao is a project under the DeveloPPP program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in partnership with DEG and Yara Fertilizers Philippines Inc. It is implemented to address cacao farmers’ limited capacity to meet industry demand due to low productivity. This is mainly due to the shortage of viable planting materials and the farmers’ lack of knowledge on crop nutrition, good agricultural practices (GAPs) and post-harvest handling.


The project also aims to increase the efficiency of farmers in cacao production through Yara’s crop nutrition solutions and effective crop handling. Twenty-five local farmers will be trained to become cacao specialists, who will, in turn, provide crop nutrition training to 50 cacao farmers. In addition, model farms will be established and post-harvest processing facilities will be set up in partnership with selected rural-based cooperatives in the area. Through these strategies, the yield of farmers is expected to increase by at least 25 percent and the selling price of the processed beans to increase by at least 10 percent. Eventually, the project will contribute to the country’s achievement of its national target, which is to produce 100,000 MT of dried fermented beans by 2022.

Development of E-Learning Courses for the Community Agent Network (CAN) Program

In a bid to extend financial inclusion to remote areas in the Philippines, the CAN program of the Grameen Foundation aims to build a network of financial agents in rural villages of Panay Island. The project enabled sari-sari store owners, mostly stay-at-home mothers, to offer a range of financial services to their villages.


ASSIST developed two interactive, web-based e-learning courses to equip sari-sari store owners to become a financial agent which can be accessed through Android-based tablets.  Course One teaches the owners to use the digital payment center device called Ka-Pos!ble!; and Course Two is an engaging, easy-to-understand module on encouraging financial literacy among micro-vendors who used digital payment devices called Digi-tindahan. ASSIST designed and developed the storyboard, script, graphics, animations, and videos for both the following courses.

LEAP – Leapfrog towards Efficiency And Progress through Low Carbon Economy in Indonesia

The Indonesian manufacturing sector is one of the nation’s largest sources of fossil-fuel derived greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Overall, manufacturing is responsible for over 50 percent of Indonesia’s fossil-fuel emissions (including electricity use within manufacturing) and is continuing to grow at the rate of 6–7 % each year. Most of these sub-sectors are key to the current or future Indonesian economy as measured by a variety of statistics including their value added (textile, garments, transportation equipment, food and beverage), annual growth rate (auto parts, non-metallic minerals) and economic multipliers (food and beverage, textiles).


Jointly funded and implemented by PT TÜV NORD I and DEG, “LEAP – Leapfrog towards Efficiency And Progress through Low Carbon Economy in Indonesia” aimed to reduce GHG emissions in the major industries of the manufacturing sector, achieve energy and material efficiency among participating companies and contribute to poverty reduction by minimizing the impacts of climate change and promoting sustainable development. The project worked towards initiating a low carbon economy in Indonesia through awareness raising and capacity building activities.


The project has reached a number of milestones upon its culmination. It successfully raised awareness on climate change-related topics in the public and private sectors, generated interest among local companies to adopt energy management systems benchmarking ISO 14064 and ISO 50001 (towards reducing their GHG emissions and contribute to the switch towards a low–carbon economy), build local capacity through Training of Trainer Workshops, development of an e-learning kit, e-newsletter, web portal and Best Practices Exchange Forum. Fifteen selected companies also received technical assistance in the form of energy audits and assessment conducted by local trainers and technical experts.


The construction boom in Vietnam, especially in the urban areas, is providing more business opportunities for the elevator/escalator (mobility) industry. For a fast developing country like Vietnam, raising the awareness of workplace safety & workplace productivity (efficiency) can be considered as a crucial part for sustainable growth and align local workforce standard to that of the developed world.


ASSIST, in partnership with Schindler Vietnam has collaborated on a project called ELEVATE Vietnam whose objective is to raise awareness and transfer knowledge on safe and energy efficient use and deployment of elevators and escalators to minimize health risks that result from malfunction and incorrect use. Activities related to the project consist of collection, assessment and evaluation of current training program, subsequent actions to improve the training curricula, creation of training materials with support from Schindler experts and parallel translation, the identification of representatives for each target group of the  project (public users, suppliers, customers, relevant ministry/departments/agencies, government officials, universities and students) and conduction of training on safety and energy efficiency.


The project aims to achieve these lasting impacts:  improvements in the training of technical workforce will bring benefits in terms of higher employment rate, fewer accidents, and an enabled private sector. The trainers will be better capacitated and connected to provide relevant and targeted training. Moreover, the project is expected to benefit the wider society as end-users of elevators and escalators, which would now be safer to use and continuously maintained for lesser disruptions. With 50% of the work done, it aims to deliver before the end of 2018, the successful establishment of training courses and execution of the awareness campaign and training on the safe and efficient use of elevators and escalators.

PROMPT – Promote Technical Education Reform of Mechanics to Professional Technicians

Vietnam has approximately 53 million workers, 83.5 percent of which are manual laborers without any vocational certificates (especially, in the elevator services industry). A report by World Bank shows that Vietnam currently ranks on the bottom half of the rankings on ASEAN labor force development.


ASSIST, together with KONE Vietnam LLC, developed a project called PROMPT to improve and promote technical training in Vietnam through a dual education model and advance safety and quality of testing and maintaining elevator service. It aims at motivating students and existing workforce to think and focus on the quality of their labor, in a sense, becoming technicians instead of just manual workforce as mechanics. The goal of the project is to enhance the skills and attitudes of technical workers, attempting a shift towards taking pride in quality or work and skills improvement.


The project team has commenced working on the development of the training curricula based on the existing agenda and improved it according to a collected feedback from potential employers of the students in the private sector. A complete needs and requirements assessment will be conducted to evaluate the biggest gaps in education and enhance the employability of the graduates. For sustainability, the partner training academy will be capacitated to run the improved training program by training their trainers. The same course will be targeting trainers from other technical schools as well and include senior experts in the field,  who can continue with in-company advance training programs. Currently, a training program for electricians with sessions within the private sector is being implemented. Additionally, the KONE Training Center at the College has commenced development.

Green Electrician – Education in Electricity for Employment

Vietnam’s fast economic growth due to “Doi Moi” – the 1986 economic reform,  has led to the increased demand for skilled labor with the government responding through the formulation of a “Vocational Training Development Strategy 2011 – 2020”.  The rapid industrialization over the past decade has also resulted in increased annual energy consumption growth rate of more than 12%. Forecasts show that an energy shortage of up to 70% could be experienced by 2025.


Seeing the need to increase energy management skills and trained labor in the industry to ensure environmentally sustainable development, Schneider Electric and ASSIST spearheaded a private sector partnership (PSP) project called “Green Electrician: Education in Electricity for Employment”. The project aims to promote and improve vocational training education in the growing energy industry through the establishment of training programs in cooperation with a local education partner. Specifically the project targeted students from underprivileged backgrounds via a free basic training program in order to help students gain access to stable employment opportunities. It aims to establish training centers or laboratories, develop practice-oriented training curricula, establish training programs on Basic Electricity and Sustainable Energy Management and provide entrepreneurship training to young people to help them create their own businesses and ensure sustainable income generation. The project is also promoting vocational training opportunities in schools to increase awareness and interest through job fairs featuring electric companies.


The project was able to build two laboratories in Ly Tu Trong Technical College (LTTC) which instilled hands-on experience and trained fifteen local teachers who in turn, trained and disseminated knowledge to other training centers, produced three training programs and trained 1,400 students. The program is scheduled to conclude by the end of 2018 and project implementers seek to secure nationwide adaptation of the training programs in the long run.

Pro-FIT – Promoting Food Industry Competitiveness Training Program

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for a large majority of establishments in the Philippines, employing 70% of the total labor force. Undeniably, MSMEs constitute the backbone of the economy, playing a key role in the country’s growth and development. Nevertheless, local MSMEs in food production and processing have a small presence in the Philippine market. Most food products available in local retail chains are produced in neighboring Asian countries. The problem is that development of the sector is hindered by uncoordinated and outdated professional and technical qualifications for MSMEs as well as a lack of adequate public action against noncompliance with food regulations and standards.


ASSIST partnered with TÜV Rheinland, SEQUA, the University of the Philippines Institute for Small Scale Industries (UP-ISSI) and AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation to implement Pro-FIT. The project aimed to enhance the capacity of local MSMEs in the food and beverage industry, to improve competitiveness in local and foreign markets. This was done by creating awareness and addressing the benefits of food safety regulations and standards, and implementing a variety of qualification courses on food safety regulations and standards through the coordinated effort from relevant stakeholders.


By the end of the project, five courses were developed with curriculum and training materials for the pilot implementation and certification of the diploma courses. These courses included Certified Quality Associate, Diploma in Food Safety Management, Certification Programme on Good Manufacturing Practices, Certified Food Safety Professional and Basics of Food Safety, and Hygiene and Food Handling; and have been absorbed into UP-ISSI’s regular course offerings to students. ASSIST and partners also executed Train-the-Trainer workshops for 30 trainers coming from UP-ISSI, the Philippine Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Philippine Trade Training Center and other TVET centers in the country. Additionally, basic courses were administered to 200 operators from 10 MSMEs. The overall impact of this project increases the chances of MSMEs in the food and beverage sector to better enter domestic and foreign markets and contribute to the growing economy of the Philippines.