The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), yesterday agreed to implement a three-year convergence program that will address the need for sustainable livelihood and employment opportunities through technology-based and innovation-led entrepreneurship.

“We are aiming to develop “techno-preneurs”, Filipinos who are engaged in livelihoods using available local resources and technologies developed by the DOST. This convergence program is designed to assist local workers, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and Yolanda victims in their livelihood undertakings,” Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in a press conference held after she and DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo signed a memorandum of agreement on the DOLE-DOST Convergence Program on Technology-Driven, Resources Based, and Sustainable Livelihood.

“The objective of this program is to transform entrepreneurs to become “techno-preneurs” through innovation and to help build climate-resilient communities and sustainable entreprises,” Baldoz said.

Secretary Montejo said that the latest partnership between the DOST and the DOLE is aimed at providing people with new livelihood opportunities to hold on to, and in so doing, encourage them to move on in life with renewed hopes—all these to be technology/innovation-led.

“With the DOST working hand-in-hand with the DOLE and with everyone’s support, I know this joint effort would go a long way towards building better, stronger, and more resilient communities,” Montejo said.

Four components, according to the levels of intervention, comprise the DOLE-DOST convergence program. These components are as follows:

(1) Livelihood formation, to enable the unemployed poor, seasonal, and low-wage workers to start individual livelihood or collective enterprise undertaking;

(2) Livelihood enhancement, to enable existing livelihood undertakings of self-employed workers and/or accredited co-partners (ACPs) to grow into viable and sustainable businesses that provide income at least at par with those of minimum wage earners;

(3) Livelihood restoration, to enable the re-establishment of lost livelihood of self-employed and low-wage workers and/or ACPs; and

(4) Community/group enterprise development, to enable existing livelihood projects of group of beneficiaries in barangays to be transformed into community enterprises.

Under the program, the DOLE commits to improve delivery of its livelihood programs in 2014 for 100,000 vulnerable workers, such as parent of child laborers, marginalized and landless farm workers, fishery workers, small transport workers, home-based workers, vendors, waste workers, and non-corporate construction workers.

The DOLE and the DOST have already identified the package of services the two departments will provide to beneficiaries. These are working capital in the form of raw materials, equipment, tools and jigs; skills and entrepreneurship training; training on productivity, safety and health, and organizational development; and payment of premiums to SSS, PhilHealth, or micro-insurance for three months, imputed in the total project cost.

The DOLE-DOST agreement also identifies five areas of collaboration. The first area is  Sustainable Community-Based Entrepreneurship, which is designed to empower individuals and organizations to shape their lives, as individuals and as a group with benefits accruing to both, generating employment, and creating and retaining wealth for the community.

The second area is on Business and Technology Incubation, which will provide start-up enterprises with a nurturing environment, through physical office space and business support services, and graduate them as sustainable, free standing enterprises. The provision of community-based kitchen incubators and common service facilities are two of the strategies already identified in this area.

The DOLE and the DOST will also pool its resources to set up business and technology centers, the third area. Establishing mini-industrial estates as investment sites or hosts for the revival of lost businesses and/or creation of new businesses with employment of qualified and skilled workers/laborers from the communities are some of the strategies to be pursued.

The two agencies will also work on innovation and knowledge center, which will host all interventions relevant to information dissemination, technology diffusion, training, skills development, capability-building, and other activities in support of providing the knowledge, skills, and tools for creating a corps of smart workforce or “technopreneurs”.

Lastly, the two government agencies will work on raising the communities’ awareness on climate change through educational programs that focuses on the facts, causes, and immediate and emergency response to it.

“The natural calamities that recently shook our country have left us not only devastation, but lessons learned. This is a very opportune time to put those lessons to work. A full-cycle approach to improving the lives of our people which this convergence program adheres to will help us address the need of our displaced and vulnerable workers for a fresh start in life. I am very hopeful that this undertaking between DOLE and DOST will contribute not just to rebuilding, but to ensuring, resilient and sustainable livelihoods that they can lean on to in normal as well as calamitous times,” said Baldoz.


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