THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the National Government on Thursday awarded service-training grants to five networks of enterprises through the SkillsUpNet Philippines (SUNPh) program.

A total of 66 enterprises and 600 workers in the Bicol and Davao regions and Cebu province will benefit from the SUNPh program, which aims to enhance skills and competitiveness, ADB said in a press release.

The grants range from $20,000 to $80,000.

The five network recipients of the grant under the first phase of the program are Dagos Tabi Albay Micro and Small Accommodation Enterprises Network for the tourism sector, Cebu Constructors’ Network for construction, Cebuanimation Network for information technology-animation, Kapehan Sa Davao for agribusiness, and Sulong Davao Business Owned by Women for women-led enterprises.

“The rationale of the program is to help address the new challenges of the scarring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment, as well as the emerging impact of new technologies and shaping the future of work,” ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed said in a speech at the awarding ceremony.

The press release said the SUNPh program is an innovative skills-delivery scheme led by employers in which they apply for grants on a competitive basis to finance short-term skills training for their workers and managers.

The program is part of the government’s National Employment Recovery Strategy 2021–2022 aimed at improving workers’ access to jobs, livelihoods, and training.

“We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions to employment and widened the skills–jobs mismatch in the Philippines. Through SkillsUpNet Philippines, we are helping the government with one innovative solution to addressing skills–jobs mismatches in the labor market, retooling and reskilling Filipino workers to raise productivity, and improving employees’ prospects for better opportunities and higher incomes,” Mr. Saeed said in the press release.

The ADB, along with representatives from the departments of Trade and Industry, Tourism, and Labor and Employment, held consultations and orientation workshops starting in the last quarter of 2021 to introduce the program to enterprises across the country, the press release said.

“We hope that with a successful first batch of awardees we can then roll this out as a larger program nationwide,” Mr. Saeed said. — Aaron Michael C. Sy