Welding, plumbing, and carpentry. What used to be work associated with men are lately seeing a growing number of Filipino women aspiring to pursue careers in these fields. At the Makati Training Placement and Livelihood Consortia (MTPLC), for instance, more women students are enrolling in welding and other technical educational skill courses
MTPLC, more famously referred to as Makati Consortia, conducts training programs to explore and provide placement opportunities for Makati’s out-of-school youth, unemployed adults, marginalized women, and even senior citizens.
The program offers courses such as welding and fabrication, automotive servicing, electronics servicing, and motorcycle servicing, among many others.
Although such courses traditionally caters to men, more women are now exploring its potential opportunities and have already penetrated the field, especially that of welding.
According to Apollo Mambiar, Program Manager for MTPLC, there is an increase in the number of women enrolling in the consortia, in which most courses are male-dominated.
“Noon kapag sinabi mong consortia, ay naku, puro lalaki doon, 100 percent. Pero ngayon, grabe na ang itinaas ng percentage doon sa number ng enrollees natin,” he said in an interview.
[Before, the men dominate the consortia by 100 percent. Now, we had a drastic increase in percentage of (female) enrollees.]
Apollo added that they started with zero percent of women enrollees but currently, 20 to 30 percent of their enrollees are comprised of women.
“May mga babae na kaming nag-o-automotive, may babae kami na nag-e-electrical building wiring, may babae na sa welding. Sa traditionally male-dominated areas or trade areas, welding ang may pinakamaraming babae na nag-e-enroll,” he said.
[There are women who are already involved in automotives, electrical building wiring and welding. In traditionally male-dominated areas or trade areas, welding has the most number of female enrollees.]
MTPLC’s flagship programs are traditionally tailored for males but Mambiar believes that women can perform at par with men.
“Oo naman, kaya nila definitely,” he said.
[Of course they can, definitely.]
The women aspiring to be welders blur the concept of “men being stronger than women.”
“Pinili ko kasi kakaiba para sa isang Pinay, ‘di ba usually namulat tayo na ang babae sa bahay lang; lumabas man ng bahay, ang Pinay trabaho niya masyadong feminine ‘di ba. Ang welding kakaiba kasi it’s a man’s world, maganda i-penetrate. Wala kaming gustong patunayan pero minsan kasi maganda yung pakiramdam na ‘kaya ko pala’,” Delia Sancho, one of the female welding students said in an interview.
[I chose (welding) because it is different for a Filipina. As a woman, we are accustomed staying only at home or if employed, the job is usually too feminine. Welding is different; it is a man’s world so it is good to penetrate. We do not want to prove anything but sometimes it is good to feel that I can do it.]
“Kung kaya ng lalaki kayang-kaya din naming babae,” Nelsie Gutierrez, one of the female students, added.
[If men can do it, women can do it also.]
According to the female students, discrimination has no place in their classes in school and the men in their group are very supportive towards them.
Meiling Delgado, one of the students of of the program, said that they don’t experience any conflicts since women today are treated equally by men. Meanwhile, these women are professionally working during the day and are student welders at night. Among them are a teacher, clerk, and domestic helper.
Looking for a brighter future
Apart from challenging themselves by assuming tasks usually dominated by men, these women are also aiming to have a better financial future.
Mambiar said most of them avail of the program with the intention to go abroad. A large number of their enrolled students have relatives already working in other countries and have informed them of the list of in-demand jobs there.
Moreover, Mambiar said many developed countries are looking for skilled workers like welders. He added that there is an ongoing second wave of construction boom in Middle East countries. The industry boom focuses on building leisure parks as well as the reconstruction of areas affected by wars.
Since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which massively devastated homes and infrastructure, construction workers including welders have become in demand in that country.
Most of the female welding students took the course having in mind the probability of working in a foreign land. “Gusto ko lang mabago yung katayuan ko sa buhay… Kung papalarin po, kung may pagkakataon pwede na rin mag-abroad,” said Corazon Salvacion, one of the welding students.
[I want to change the situation of my life. If given a chance, I will work abroad.]
Nelsie Gutierrez, another student, shares the same view. “Yes, kung may opportunity mas maganda. Malaki ang opportunity niya locally and abroad. Locally, you can put up a business. Abroad, malaki ang opportunity niya, mga skill kasi ang kailangan sa ibang bansa eh,” she said.
[Yes, if there is a better opportunity. There is a big opportunity (in welding) locally and abroad. Locally, one can put up a business. In abroad, the opportunity is better since skilled workers are what other countries need.]
While most of them seek employment opportunities in foreign lands, others took the course for the enjoyment of pursuing new skills and knowledge.
Delia Sancho, a high school teacher said working abroad did not occur to her. “Gusto ko lang magkaroon ng ibang avenue, i-explore yung ibang avenue para hindi ako stagnant,” she said.
[I just wanted to pursue and explore other avenues so I would not be stagnated.]
“Ang prospect ko lang sakali mang magkakaroon ng welding class pwede ako lumipat para magturo,” she added.
[My prospect is to teach welding if there would be other classes.]
Aside from broadening their employment opportunities, most of the students said they were really enjoying their class. They are proud of their craftsmanship and more importantly, they are getting fulfillment and feel more dignified.
Strengthening the project
Since there is a high demand in the construction industry in developing countries, MTPLC plans to include additional courses to their program such as plumbing and carpentry in order to train more prospective students.
Moreover, MTPLC is working hand in hand with Makati City Hall’s Internal Community Relations Department in disseminating information down to the barangay level about the training projects.
Mambiar also said there are many ways to equip individuals with skills which will pave the way for employment opportunities.
“Wala kang trabaho? Gusto mo magtrabaho? Punta ka sa training center namin, iti-train ka namin. After that, padadala ka namin sa abroad.
[If you do not have a job and want one, you can go at our training centers and we will train you. After that, we will send you abroad.]