Technical Careers Needed
The marching orders of Pres. Duterte to TESDA to offer more courses that will support his Build, Build, Build Program underscores the lack of skilled workers in our country. A large percentage of families want their children to be college-educated, in the hope of seeing them land professional jobs. The willingness of the youth to sign up for construction or manufacturing positions is reduced in importance for jobs behind computers in air-conditioned offices. For most Filipino families, the road to success is paved with a bachelor’s degree.
Technical Education as Option
The thousands of Duatlech Alumni have proven that a technical-vocational (tech-voc) education can be exciting, profitable, productive, and may lead one to success. A technician is not the poor man’s profession.
Good, high-paying jobs await qualified tech-voc graduates. In companies, a tech-voc graduate who works as a heavy equipment technician can earn a lot more than the admin officer with a college degree.
Many partner companies are requesting Dualtech for technical training for their machine operators. The technical training program aims to decrease down time on machines as these operators are now equipped with competencies that allows them to troubleshoot and make minor repairs. Aside from the value added skill received, these operator technicians will get a bump in pay.
Where are the engineers? They are abroad. There should be no debate on which profession is better. Both technicians and engineers are on equal footing. In high-technology firms, technicians are as in demand as engineers. Tech-voc graduates are in demand abroad too.
There is a growing interdependency between IT and industrial control systems. Businesses will need to revisit how they understand these types of operational technologies. Considering that these systems are linked to real physical systems, organizations will need to find ways to seamlessly integrate these systems. We have seen these when plumbing meets electronics, Inverter technology in air-conditioning, and Variable Frequency Drive for motor control. A tech-voc graduate already knows the processes and may easily assimilate integrating IT with industrial control systems.
The Dualtech Experience
Many Dualtech technicians have turned entrepreneurs. Highly competent in their acquired skill, these alumni set up their own business.
Owing their success to Dualtech education, alumni are sending their children to enrol at the school. A good number of the students are brothers, relatives and neighbours of Dualtech students. These students have seen that rolling up sleeves, opposing convention of acquiring a college diploma and getting their hands dirty is for their and the country’s economic future.
Dualtech cannot keep up with the demand for more trainees being requested by partner companies. And growth in the manufacturing sector is expected to bounce back in the months ahead. Manufacturing has long been recognized as an essential sector for inclusive growth. Known for its multiplier and spill-over effects, the sector is one of the biggest contributors to the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP). Dualtech technicians are in the middle of this growth.
The bulk of students in Dualtech are Generation Zs, or those born starting 1997. Because they are so-called digital natives, Generation Zs learning styles are more visual and interactive as opposed to the traditional type of learning that is more teacher-centred. At Dualtech, “visual and interactive” is called “hands on” training. Students do bench-work, machining, strip and splice wires and, ran motors. What is more “visual and interactive” than these activities? The dual training system allows for long-term in-plant training. In the factory floor these trainees see and feel what it would be like in the real world.
A good number of alumni have earned their college degree. Having a good and solid foundation on practical applications of technology, these alumni enrolled in an equivalency accreditation program which leads to a bachelor’s degree. In the program, they now learn the theory or science side of technology. So, a college diploma is not completely out of the picture for tech-voc graduates.
In the future when we ask Filipino children what they want to be when they grow up, many of them will answer they want to be “Electromechanic” or a maintenance technician. With those responses, let us not be surprised.