Close to 100,000 vulnerable workers, such as parents of child laborers, marginalized and landless farm workers, fishery workers, small transport workers, home-based worker, and returning/displaced OFWs in Typhoon Yolanda-hit areas, will benefit from the DOLE-DOST Convergence Program on Technology-Driven, Resource-Based, and Sustainable Livelihood.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz assured this yesterday as she committed the DOLE to improve the delivery of its livelihood programs in convergence with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and other concerned government agencies.
“It is only through convergence that we bring technology, livelihood, and employment on the ground,” she said, expressing her core message as she pitched for the joint effort of the DOLE and the DOST in rebuilding typhoon-stricken communities and ensuring sustainable, resource-based livelihood for displaced workers in these areas.
“We have been doing a lot of livelihood efforts to typhoon-stricken communities but the real challenge for the government is sustainability,” Baldoz said this after she and DOST Secretary Mario Montejo signed the memorandum of agreement on the convergence program at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City.
According to Baldoz, the DOLE has a budget of P132 million for the first year of the three-year convergence program, out of the total DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program budget of P609 million in the 2014 General Appropriations Act.
“In addition, we could also tap for the convergence program funds on livelihood from the 2014 DOLE supplemental budget under Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) Project of P833 million,” Baldoz explained.
She further said the DOLE would make available the P2-billion OFW Reintegration Program for OFW returnees who would opt to venture in either business expansion or start-up operations.
“OFWs who are interested to start or expand an existing business enterprise may avail of loan assistance under the P2-billion reintegration program without collateral as long as the business they want to put or expand remains viable and profitable,” Baldoz said.
Present to lend support to the DOLE-DOST convergence program are Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya and Department of Agriculture Director Renato Manantan.
“The convergence of national and local government agencies to maximize the use of scarce government resources is what we need to build sustainable enterprises and to transform Yolanda survivors into ‘techno-preneurs’ borne out of their own ingenuity in utilizing their local resources. By bringing technology-based and innovation-led entrepreneurship, we are opening an array of livelihood opportunities to the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers affected by the recent calamities,” Baldoz said.
The DOLE-DOST convergent program is the contribution of the two agencies to RAY.
Under the convergence program, the DOLE as the national government agency mandated to promote gainful employment opportunities and help develop the country’s human resource, shall identify target beneficiaries of the program; identify in-demand skills vis-à-vis available skilled individuals in the communities; enroll projects to the program; and provide funds. It shall also coordinate with the DA and DTI to be able to provide information on raw materials and current market demand.
The DOLE also 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, and OFW returnees
Sharing the same efforts, the DOST as the premiere science and technology body in the country, will provide scientific and technological skills, strategies, and assistance that beneficiaries can use; tap the Technology Resource Center (TRC), DOST’s corporate arm, to work on the business and livelihood programs interventions. For other technical requirements of the convergent program, the DOST shall tap its regional offices, councils, research and development institutes (RDIs).
More importantly, the DOST shall provide the necessary technologies for people or group of people for potential technology transfer or adoption for business, as well as counterpart funding, in the form of technologies and innovations, technical assistance, experts’ man-hours, and the like.
“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,” Baldoz explained.
Speaking of a resource-rich country, Montejo emphasized the need to harness and efficiently maximize available local resources with the use of appropriate technology to bring about homegrown products and enterprises.
“We need to find technologies to be able to harness the resources that are available at hand towards building better, stronger, and more resilient communities. Our resilience as a people is beyond doubt. What we hope to achieve is augment it through the adoption of advanced technology,” Motejo said.
“Our mandates do not change but the way on how we implement reforms and how we do things on the ground is what really matters, especially to those affected by calamities and those in the periphery of socio-economic development,” Baldoz added.