SKILLS bags Housing Innovation Award in Bangkok

Cebu-based technical vocational institute, School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership, and Service (SKILLS), received an Innovation Award for Partnership and Policies from the Habitat for Humanity (HFH).

The Innovation Award was presented during HFH’s 7th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, Thailand last September 17-19, 2019. SKILLS was among the 3 winners chosen from over 60 applications from various countries.       

SKILLS was specifically recognized for its advocacy on industry certification that creates multi-skilled workers called Builder Assistants. Builder Assistants are workers skilled in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and tile-setting.

Solving the housing backlog

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.

In her presentation to the awards jury and audience, President and COO Paulette Liu said that SKILLS “wanted to address the interrelated problems of poverty due to unemployment, talent shortage, and the skills mismatch of academe and industry thus we (SKILLS) worked within the senior high school, through the technical vocational  Dualized Education and Training (DET).” 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. More Builder Assistants would mean more multi skilled professionals in the construction industry receiving sustainable salaries. 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.  Because of their valued role in the Build Build Build Program,  they will have  dignity of labor.

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), in collaboration with Cebu Contractors Association, Department of Education, Technical Education Skills Development Authority, 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.  

The two other awardees were Green Antz of Philippines under construction innovation category and Pounamu Bamboo Construction of Myanmar for community initiatives and spatial planning category. SKILLS’ partnership and policies category highlights cross-sector collaborations of various stakeholders including national and local governance units. Winners each received US$ 5,000 to support their projects.

Protecting families

SKILLS is operated by the Primary Structures Educational Foundation, Inc., the corporate foundation of the Primary Group of Builders. PSEFI is a member of the League of Corporate Foundations since 2015. SKILLS offers formal senior high school education and short-term courses accredited by 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. Annually, SKILLS trains, assesses, and certifies 1,000 workers. 

In her closing statement, Liu noted that industry certification is ultimately about protecting families. She said that ‘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.” Liu engaged the jury and audience to work together ‘’not just to build homes but build better lives.” ###

Left: Mr. Egbert Appel, President of Hilti Foundation, presented the Innovation Award for Partnerships and Policies to Ms. Paulette Liu, President and COO of PSEFI SKILLS during the APHF dinner gala last 18 September 2019. Right: Ms. Liu presented the advocacy to the APHF Innovation Awards jury last 17 September 2019. Photo credit: APHF Innovation Awards secretariat.   

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