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Why women welders are preferred in Mideast

/ 05:08 AM June 15, 2015

guyito-0615Filipino female welders may (or may not) have a reason to celebrate.

Women appear to be more “in demand” in the Middle East because they are perceived to possess certain traits that employers find crucial, according to Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda).

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For one, women are regarded as meticulous. For another, they are seen as rather serious types, said the official in charge of the agency that oversees technical-vocational education in the country.

“I asked in the Middle East, ‘Why?’ And they said: ‘Men go out frequently (magimik) at night. The women, after work, will return to the dorm. The women are asleep, while the men are (out),’” Villanueva said in a talk with editors and reporters at the Inquirer main office in Makati City on Thursday night.

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According to the Tesda chief, the biggest employers of Filipino female welders, apart from those in the Middle East, are Keppel and Hanjin, which build ships in Cebu and Zambales provinces, respectively.

Even before the female students could graduate from the course, these companies were already lining up to hire them, Villanueva said. It is this employability of technical-vocational graduates in general that should push others to enroll in any of Tesda’s programs, he said.

“Numbers don’t lie. Last year, of the 250,000 graduates of

Tesda, 150,000 were college graduates. The rest were college dropouts in their third year or fourth year because they had realized that despite a college degree, [they] would still be part of the unemployed and underemployed. Imagine the money, time and effort that they have to spend,” he said.

This year appeared to paint the same picture.

‘Oversubscribed’

Citing a Commission on Higher Education report, Villanueva said half of the country’s college students were enrolled in “low-priority disciplines” and half of them were enrolled in “oversubscribed courses.”

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“So when they finish college, [they] already know where they are going,” he said.

Although Tesda courses like bartending, coffee serving and housekeeping are popular among many Filipinos, other people continue to look down on technical-vocational education, Villanueva said.

“They think [that] to be successful in life, you need to be a college degree holder. If you don’t have a diploma in your living room, you are weak. But it’s not true,” he said.

Success stories

He said it was this “stigma” of industrial education that Tesda was trying to eradicate by producing successful and employable graduates, and by promoting “success stories” of these graduates.

He cited the example of Ryan Cordova, a Tesda mechatronics graduate who now manages a company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Tesda mechatronics students are taught how to configure devices, such as digital watches, thermostats and photocopiers.

Another example, Villanueva said, is Marjo Lardera, a consumer electronics servicing graduate, who, despite being armless, became known for his ability to fix appliances and devices, like refrigerators and watches, in Iloilo.

“I think that’s the only way. Even if I talk about it and people don’t see in their neighborhood success stories, they will continue to have that stigma and that penchant for college diploma,” Villanueva said.

Tesda graduates’ higher chances of succeeding are also what drives him to make sure that Tesda programs reach every region of the country, according to Villanueva.

Mobile training centers

Only recently, Villanueva said, Tesda signed a memorandum of agreement with state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. for the agency’s acquisition of 40 more mobile training centers.

Villanueva said Tesda brought a mobile training class to Bagong Silang in Quezon City and trained people in disaster preparedness, small-engine repair, electric installation maintenance and basic computer skills.

“We spent about P1.5 million to P2 million for scholarship programs,” he said.

“We are also encouraging technical-vocational institutions to apply for mobile training centers they can use. Right now, for example, in Region VII (Central Visayas), there are about 47 schools offering the mobile (service). They just park the vehicle, the truck,” he said.

Free online courses

To reach more people, Tesda is offering for free 29 online courses, such as web development, cell phone repair and computer hardware servicing.

Villanueva said seven of the online courses were “downloadable.”

“Certification comes in after you go to a [Tesda] assessment center. You really have to demonstrate (before you get a national certification). In Tesda, that’s how it is,” he said.

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TAGS: Education, Joel Villanueva, Middle East, Overseas Filipino Workers, Technical-Vocational Education, Tesda, welders, Women
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