Cebu’s tech-voc school wins housing innovation award

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo October 10,2019 - 12:48 PM

The School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership, and Service (SKILLS) trains multi-skilled works, who are called builder assistants. The builder assistants are industry-certified in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and tile-setting. | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — For its advocacy on industry certification that creates multi-skilled workers, a Cebu-based technical-vocational school was recognized with an international housing innovation award in Bangkok, Thailand last month, September 2019.

The School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership, and Service (SKILLS) was presented with the Innovation Award for Partnership and Policies from the Habitat for Humanity (HFH) at the HFH’s 7th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum held in Bangkok’s Grand Hyatt Erawan on September 17-19, 2019.

SKILLS was among the three winners chosen from over 60 applications from various countries.

The two other awardees are Green Antz of Philippines under construction innovation category, and Pounamu Bamboo Construction of Myanmar for community initiatives and spatial planning category.

The three winners were chosen from 60 entries from all over the world.

The winners received plaques of recognition and US$ 5,000 each to support their projects.

SKILLS’ industry certification advocacy creates multi-skilled workers called Builder Assistants.

Builder Assistants are workers skilled in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and tile-setting.

Pauellete Liu, president and chief executive officer of SKILLS, said the school wanted to address the interrelated problems of poverty due to unemployment, talent shortage, and the skills mismatch of academe and industry.

This is the reason why SKILLS worked within the senior high school level through the technical vocational  Dualized Education and Training (DET).

Liu said this strategy formalizes the participation of the construction industry in the training of workers.

“Homeowners who have transformed themselves as builder assistants are employable, entrepreneurial, and able to build or repair their own safe, disaster-resilient houses at a lower cost,” said Liu during her acceptance speech.

Dignity of labor 

More builder assistants mean more multi-skilled professionals in the construction industry who receive sustainable salaries.

SKILLS’ industry certification program is in line with their mission to contribute in addressing the housing backlog in the Philippines.

Paulette Liu, SKILLS president and chief executive officer, engages the jury and participants of the Habitat for Humanity (HFH) 7th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Bangkok, Thailand last September 2019. | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By 2030, housing backlog in the Philippines shall be 12.45 million units and the availability of builder assistants in communities will promote affordable, accessible, and resilient housing.

“Developing builder assistants will be a sustainable and empowering solution to the global housing problem, skills shortage in the construction industry, and poverty due to unemployment,” said Liu.

Because they will have crucial roles in the Philippine Government’s Build Build Build Program, Liu said that they will have dignity of labor.

Students of SKILLS are trained at the campus located at the General Maxilom Avenue in Cebu.

After their training, students are immersed in construction project sites where they apply and hone their skills.

The sites have in-company trainers who ensure achievement of the learning goals.

Industry-driven education

Industry certification sprung from the K to 12 Plus Project initiated in 2015 by AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development and Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

This was in collaboration with Cebu Contractors Association, Department of Education, Technical Education Skills Development Authority (Tesda), and SKILLS. 

To sustainably mainstream industry certification, CCCI organized the Assessment, Certification, and Accreditation Services (ACAS).

Aside from certification, CCCI’s ACAS unit also facilitates job placement, promotion of DET, and information sharing across schools, companies, and business membership organizations.   

SKILLS’ partnership and policies category highlights cross-sector collaborations of various stakeholders including national and local governance units.

Protecting families

SKILLS is operated by the Primary Structures Educational Foundation, Inc., the corporate foundation of the Primary Group of Builders.

The school offers formal senior high school education and short-term courses accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd) and Tesda.

Aside from construction, SKILLS also offers training and assessment in the fields of hotel and tourism, health and social services, maritime, and English as a Second Language.

Paulette Liu, SKILLS president and chief executive officer, accepts the housing innovation award under the Partnerships and Policies category at the Habitat for Humanity’s 7th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum held in Bangkok, Thailand last September 2019. | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Annually, SKILLS trains, assesses, and certifies 1,000 workers.  

In her closing statement during the awarding ceremony, Liu noted that industry certification is ultimately about protecting families.

“By training and certifying workers, they are not only able to build quality homes, we also build their confidence and dignity as they now earn sustainable income which enables them to provide food and education for their children,” said Liu.

Liu encouraged the jury and the audience to “work together not just to build homes but to build better lives.” 

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