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SM Tech-Voc Program: Providing Equal Opportunities for All

Don Bosco (TVET Cebu) trainees during one of their Machinery NC II workshops
According to the Philippine Construction Industry Roadmap 2020-2030, the Philippine construction industry is targeting to grow its contribution to the economy to P130 trillion by 2030. As such, there’s a continuous demand for skilled workers. 
To complement the efforts of Philippine government and to provide opportunities for the youth in grassroot communities, SM Foundation (SMFI) launched a Technical-Vocational (tech-voc) Scholarship in 2007 -  a program that offers full tech-voc scholarships to competent students who are from financially-challenged families. 
It is a two-year program that constitutes a curriculum focusing on enhancing the skills of the youth in order for them to gain tech-voc skills and employment in various professions related to services and manufacturing industries.
A recent SM Tech-Voc program graduate, the eighteen-year-old Antonette Henolos enrolled on a usually male-dominated craft - as she is sole female graduate of her class in Machining NC II which consisted of 25 students.
Machining NC II is a short TESDA course in the Philippines which trains students in setting up and operating a variety of machine tools to perform precision machining operations. Graduates of Machining NC II are usually employed as machinist, lathe, milling and precision grinding operators and bench fitters – and this skillset is not only in demand locally but also overseas. 
Antonette believes that she can also succeed in a male-dominated workforce. “It’s my dream to be successful and be skillful on my craft and maybe have an opportunity to also work and get trained abroad. Machining NC II is a stepping stone for me towards fulfilling my dreams,” she said.
It was her parents’ prodding which led her to take up the course. Second of four siblings, Antonette’s mother is a sari-sari store vendor and her father is a fish porter. Through the skillset that she acquired from the program, Antonette is determined to improve the quality of life of her family.
Don Bosco Technical Vocational Education and Training Center (TVET) Cebu Center Director Bro. Manny Gacayan has nothing but high praises for Antonette. “Female machine operators are in demand here in Cebu. They are patient and very focused. Antonette is very reliable. The company where she had her on-the-job training (MVOLT Enterprise) has expressed its intention of hiring her after graduation,” he shared.
Bro. Manny says it is her attitude and personality that will help her fit in the shop floor. “Fortunately for Antonette there is already a growing acceptance of women working in the machine shop industry. This is a positive development that things are changing and that machine shop practice is fast becoming a gender-neutral profession.
Antonette is one of the forty SM technical-vocational scholars who graduated from Don Bosco TVET in Pasil, Cebu last month. The graduates completed their 10-month training and 5-month on-the-job training in Machining NC II and Automotive Servicing NC II.
Since 2007, SM Tech Voc program has supported more than 3,500 tech-voc scholars all over the country.

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