CEMEX launches Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program

Mason scholars with CEMEX leaders, Antipolo City Government officials, partners from PBSP and TESDA during the kick-off of Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program

Mason scholars with CEMEX leaders, Antipolo City Government officials, partners from PBSP and TESDA during the kick-off of Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program

Antipolo City, Rizal— In the poorest sectors of Luzon, Filipinos struggle to survive with wages that are barely enough to supply the basic needs of their families. Their lack of economic opportunity is a condition inherited from generations of poverty.

Seeking to build a bridge between these Filipinos and economic opportunities, cement manufacturer CEMEX Philippines has forged a partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in a tailor-made initiative for livelihood and skills training dubbed Experto Ako!

“Our main goal is Filipino empowerment,” said Paul Vincent Arcenas, CEMEX vice president for strategic planning, during the launch of Experto Ako! in Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City. “We knew that we could not embark on this journey alone. We formed partnerships with TESDA and PBSP, relying on their knowledge and experience in the field to deliver a well designed program.”

After consulting its partners, the cement expert started assembling a curriculum, searching for teachers and students, as well as building a training facility. The approach was holistic and focused not on technical skills development alone, but also values formation and financial and entrepreneurial knowledge.

Luzon needs masons

“The key here is delivering a training program that leads to actual opportunities,” said Gerardo Mercado, TESDA – Regional Training Center administrator. “As the construction industry thrives, it will raise the demand for skilled and expert certified masons all over Luzon.”

Aligning with high demand, CEMEX Philippines crafted Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program. It then tapped an extensive network of clients to find 27 mason scholars from all over Luzon. Rigid screening was done by both the officials of PBSP and TESDA to ensure that graduates may serve as trainors in their respective areas too. TESDA then mobilized its licensed instructors to design and teach the 30-day course.

The Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program aims to train masons on the correct methods and latest technology of cement application thereby giving them an edge to get better opportunities in the future. The program also includes leadership workshop, financial management, and communication skills component.

Experto Ako! masons doing practical work

Experto Ako! masons doing practical work

The training center

“Several months ago, we began construction of the CEMEX Skills and Livelihood Training Center,” narrated Atty. Gina Eala, CEMEX vice president for human resources. “This is the primary training venue for Experto Ako! They will enter this classroom as students, but they will leave as experts.”

The fully equipped training center, which was inaugurated during the launch of Experto Ako! is adjacent to CEMEX’s Solid Cement Plant in Sitio Tagbac, Antipolo. It contains a full complement of teaching tools, including desks, chairs, and boards.

“Since we have students from Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cavite, we also constructed student quarters,” said Erlinda Lizardo, Experto Ako! project head. “This way, our masons do not have to take the hours-long trip home on a daily basis. They can sleep and study right here.”

What is next?

“We are keeping an ear to the ground,” said Lizardo. “Our friends from the local government say that sewing and technical vocational experts are in high demand. These can be the next courses for Experto Ako.”

Rafael Lopa, Director of PBSP, hopes that the program will inspire other members of the private sector to take a more proactive approach to building the country from the ground up. “The private sector continues to grow,” stressed Lopa. “But these companies need to remember that real progress is felt across the board— and that includes our countrymen from less-fortunate economic segments.”

Certified and proud

The first batch of Experto Ako! masons with the Foundation team and partners after the commencement exercises of the skills development program

The first batch of Experto Ako! masons with the Foundation team and partners after the commencement exercises of the skills development program

The first batch of Experto Ako! masons with the Foundation team and partners after the commencement exercises of the skills development program

At the end of the training, the masons underwent an assessment supervised by TESDA. This includes practical and theoretical knowledge on masonry. In their hands-on exam, the masons fixed the campus wall and other structures of CEMEX’s adopted school in Antipolo, the Cabarrus Elementary School. Finally, after a month of intensive training, the Experto Ako! mason scholars received their national certificates from TESDA. This certificate is an accredited document by local and global institutions in terms of masonry competency.

“Maraming maraming salamat po sa CEMEX dahil malaking bagay po talaga ito para sa amin. Marami akong bagong natutunan at naging kaibigan dito sa training [Thank you very much to CEMEX because this is really a big break for us. I learned a lot of new knowledge and also met friends in this training],” said Eduardo Yago, top student of the batch.

At the success of its first run, the Experto Ako! training program will be brought to Cebu. After typhoon Yolanda that hit eastern and central Visayas, there will be a lot of rebuilding projects and these will require the strength and expertise of masons.

“Ang hamon po pagkatapos ng training na ito ay ang maging mas mahusay, mapagkumbaba at mapagkakatiwalaang mason po kayo. Napakarangal po ng trabahong ito at wala tayong matatawag na tahanan kung wala pong mga mason [The challenge after this training is for you to become even better, more humble, and more trustworthy masons. This is a very noble profession and there won’t be a home without masons], said Chito Maniago, CEMEX director for corporate communications and public affairs in the commencement exercises of the first batch.

CEMEX Philippines is the manufacturer of the only green-labeled cement brands in the country including Island Portland Cement, Palitada King, Rizal Portland Super, Rizal Masonry Cement, APO Portland Premium, APO Portland Cement, APO Masonry Cement, and APO Pozzolan. For more information, please log on to http://www.cemexphilippines.com or for partnerships, please contact the Public Affairs Unit and email chito.maniago@cemex.com.

 

 

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