A VIRTUAL meeting place for skilled and professional Negrenses who wish to offer their services and potential employers, clients and principals was launched on July 9, 2020 on Facebook with this address: https://www.facebook.com/WorkSkillsConnectPH.

The page named as Work-Skills Connect (WSC) Negros Occidental is a project of Voice of the Free Foundation Inc. (VFFI), formerly Visayan Forum Foundation, and designed by The Design Thinking Factory founded by former Bacolod councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue.

The launching of WSC via Zoom was attended by various agency partners such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Federation of Negros Occidental as well as the board of VFFI.

VFFI President Cecilia Oebanda-Pacis shared how the idea was hatched in response to the current effect of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, particularly on the impact to untimely repatriation of OFWs and local workers displaced as a result of pandemic restrictions.

WSC, which is launched on the 30th anniversary of VFFI, is a platform to connect government agencies, private sectors and individuals affected to access helpful information, jobs and skill certification training.

Batapa-Sigue, who also serves as VFFI's chairman of the Board, discussed the mechanics of the page as inspired by the success of the Bacolod Barter Community on Facebook.

The bartering of goods and services has provided good insight into how people are now looking for opportunities online.

She said WSC will likewise become a "virtual marketplace" for skilled Negrenses to look for jobs or offer their skills to survive this crisis.

With the increasing number of repatriated OFW and displaced workers, Work-Skills Connect will help by connecting them to the right agencies, companies, establishments or individuals and even connect them to the right training for further assistance.

DTI Investment Specialist Kenneth Villarosa also presented the option of putting up a business and that DTI-Negros Occidental is ready to provide skills training through its Negosyo Centers located at major cities in the province.

Beverly Insular from Tesda-Negros Occidental also shared scholarship assistance that they could offer to returning OFWs such as the Training for Work for Special Program and the Special Training for Employment Program and the Private Education Student Financial Assistance.

PPDO Marlin Sanogal conveyed the support for private sector initiatives of the provincial government for initiatives to grow jobs and opportunities.

OFW Federation of Negros Occidental President Salvacion Barrios thanked the framers of WSC and expects the platform to be highly beneficial to OFWs.

She shared their plans for providing training, assistance and information dissemination for OFWs throughout the province with the help of Work-Skill Connect. (PR)