SKILLS stand for School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership and Service. It was probably fate that one rare, lazy afternoon in the mall, I would bump into Paulette D. Liu, a schoolmate from Hijas and now, Chief Operating Officer of Primary Structures Educational Foundation Inc. (PSEFI), the foundation that runs SKILLS.

My first impression of SKILLS was that it was simply an in-house training program of Primary Structures Corp. Well, that’s exactly how it started. In 2004, to fill in the void created by the exodus of highly-skilled construction workers abroad, Primary made the fateful decision to embark on a program to train construction workers for its own needs.

In particular, there was a great need for heavy equipment operators.

While construction jobs are traditionally filled by men, Primary took a leap of faith and opened its doors to women. In just three months, Primary produced the first heavy equipment female operators in the city, a precursor of one of its flagship projects to empower women in a male-dominated industry.

To date, SKILLS, open to both men and women, has produced not just female heavy equipment operators but also female carpenters, masons, rebar and form workers. The opportunity that PSEFI has given women in the construction industry has spawned many inspiring success stories of women taking the lead in uplifting the lives of their families.

The formal establishment of PSEFI in 2008 was followed by its Tesda certification as a training and assessment center for all construction-related trades. In 2010, PSEFI received certification from the Philippine Council for NGO Certification enabling it as a donee institution to issue a Tax Exemption Certificate to donors and sponsoring organizations.

The brand name, SKILLS, came about in 2011. That year, PSEFI marked another milestone. Partnering with the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) to produce world-class Filipino welders qualified to enter the Canadian welding market, CWB undertook the design of the training facility and curriculum for the Canadian Welding Bureau training offered by SKILLS.

Today, some of the courses offered by SKILLS include Carpentry, Masonry, Plumbing, Tile Setting, Construction Painting, Electrical Installation & Maintenance, Shield Metal Arc Welding, Scaffold Erection, Rac Servicing, Reinforced Steel Bars Installation, Heavy Equipment Operation and Servicing.

SKILLS also offers combo courses that bring together related trade courses in a single program to produce graduates with multiple skills and better employment opportunities.

With the establishment of its Hospitality Training Center in 2013, SKILLS’ offerings expanded to include Household Services and Housekeeping.

According to COO Paulette D. Liu, SKILLS is market-driven. They only train students in courses being sought by the industry to ensure immediate employment of its graduates. Scholarships are available to those who qualify.

While I was impressed by the facilities of SKILLS, I was more impressed with its vision of producing globally-competent Filipino builders. (More on SKILLS next Sunday).


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