Job opportunities come knocking for young Filipinos

Publié: 14 juillet 2015 10:02 CET

By Kate Marshall, IFRC

Princess Elbore is an 18-year-old woman from Leyte who is learning to be a welder.

Warren Ybanez, 22, is a former construction worker who’s learning to be a silver-service waiter.

These two are great examples of what happens when opportunity comes knocking in the form of a Red Cross vocational training scholarship. Participants receive a fortnightly allowance of 3,000 pesos ($66 US dollars) plus accommodation in a basic guesthouse if their family lives too far away for daily travel.

The Haiyan scholarship programme, the second phase of livelihoods support, marks a first for Philippine Red Cross in partnering with technical training institutions.

Across the Haiyan recovery operation in Leyte, Panay and Cebu, Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), are sponsoring up to 1,000 young people who dropped out of school early or whose families cannot afford to put them through further education. Before, many were resigned to dead-end jobs just to put a meal on the table. But the scholarships are giving them a real chance to find decent employment and even save for a business of their own.

The IFRC is contributing the majority of the sponsorship funding for Skills Training and Enterprise Development,  supporting 600 of the 1,000 places. So far, most students are enrolled in Leyte and Panay, with more due to start in Cebu in coming weeks. For now, they can choose between food and beverage, electrical, welding and housekeeping.

The participants are nominated by their community leaders and interviewed and selected by Philippine Red Cross. Talking to the students – who range from teenagers to adults in their early 30s – it is clear that many of them are doing a course not just to improve their job prospects and contribute financially to their families, but to give themselves a better chance of setting up their own business. Courses often include an enterprise component.  

Many of them are from poor rural areas where job prospects are very limited. All the boys can do is follow their fathers as tenant farmers or manual labourers, while the girls tend to marry early and become housewives or work long hours as maids and laundresses.

Two months into the course at Asian Development Foundation College, Tacloban, Warren says it has opened his mind to the job opportunities that exist for good waiting staff. Now he’s looking forward to the month-long on-the-job training next month at a nearby hotel.

“I’m a salesman at heart – I like to make sure the customer is satisfied with the service I provide and improve what I do,” he says as he demonstrates waiting at table to the class.

As well as silver service and presentation, a highly prized skill is the ability to pleat and skirt tablecloths for formal events.

The scholarship programme covers everything from hospitality to welding.

Despite being the only woman and among the youngest student in a class of 37, Princess has found her niche in the three-month welding course.

“I’m just one of the boys,” she says with a shy smile.

Her teacher-trainer, Alfred Reduccion, says all the students in the welding class have to meet a national standard to earn a certificate and know just as much theory as practical skills.

“The Red Cross course is longer than the others I teach so I’m hoping in the time we have together all the students can build their skills and even learn how to do something hard, like piping,” he says.

Salvacion Pinca, 21, is doing a housekeeping course. The eldest of seven children, she was forced by family circumstances to take care of her younger siblings, putting herself through school by working as a maid and a cook. She couldn’t believe her luck, she says, when she was chosen with four others from her village to pass the scholarship interview. Even though, like many young Filipinos, she dreams of finding work overseas, she is determined to start a small business selling merchandise and home-cooked food.

“I want to be an independent woman and not rely on my parents for money, but rather make sure my siblings finish school and have a good future,” she says.