MANILA -- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) wants to have more graduates of construction-related courses this year and ensure their employment, Secretary Isidro Lapeña told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

Based on TESDA's records, there were 234,546 graduates of construction-related courses in 2018.

Lapeña said TESDA targets to surpass that number this year.

"We would need additional budget, training providers, assessors and facilities for that," he said. Lapeña added that TESDA is continuously partnering with other agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in providing training for heavy equipment operators, among others.

TESDA has also partnered with the Department of Transportation for its "Train to Build, Build, Build" program. "(Also), we don't stop encouraging the industries to partner with us, because they are the ones capable of providing the facilities, and their workers could be our trainers and assessors," he said.

TESDA's "Train to Build, Build, Build" project started in 2018, with the goal of expanding the capacity of technical vocational education and training (TVET), train more skilled workers and address the need for more construction workers for the country’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

To entice more people to enroll in construction-related courses last year, TESDA has organized a National TVET Enrollment Day for construction sector.

The agency has also partnered with the Philippine Constructors Association as well as other employers in the regions; and provided free assessment for workers.

For this year, under TESDA's Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), the agency has allocated a budget of PHP500 million and targets 38,590 enrollees in construction/general infrastructure sector.

The said target is 22 percent of the total number of enrollees (163,672) from various sectors eyed under the TWSP for this year. The other sectors are agri-business, manufacturing, information technology, tourism, logistics and new and emerging priority areas.

TESDA clarified that TWSP is just one of the scholarship programs the agency provides.

There is also a Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA), the Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA), trainings sponsored by companies, among others, that people could avail of to enroll in construction-related courses, it added. (PNA)