A LEGISLATOR urged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide training programs for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

“I call on the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to immediately conduct and scale-up the training programs to retool our displaced workers and OFWs as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron P. Salo said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Salo said that the government should develop its agriculture sector to ensure food security and self-sufficiency.

“We cannot rely on imported goods, particularly food products. TESDA should develop training programs that will allow our displaced workers and OFWs to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs, such as agro-entrepreneurs,” he said.

He said that “hundreds of thousands” of OFWs are also expected to return home after being displaced from their jobs.

“Now that they are in a difficult position and without much means for their daily sustenance, the government must now carry upon its shoulders the responsibility or duty of ensuring their welfare by providing them with the needed skills that are attuned to prevailing conditions,” Mr. Salo said.

As of April 22, nearly 18,000 OFWs have returned home because of the pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported.

In March, TESDA announced that Filipinos can register and enroll in courses offered for free through e-TESDA or the TESDA Online Program. Available courses include Agriculture, Automotive, Electronics, Entrepreneurship, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration systems. — Genshen L. Espedido