Tuesday, 13 April 2010

More than skilled technicians

Manila Bulletin

There are more than 6,000 of them trained over the last 26 years by DUALTECH, the pioneer technical school in the Philippines that adapted the German Dual Training System to local conditions. They have come from some of the poorest families in the Metro Manila area, a good number of them having been out-of-school youth. Their specialized skills are in the electromechanical field and have been some of the most productive workers of such leading companies as Ayala Automotive Holdings Corporation, Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Inc., Nestlé Philippines, Samsung Electromechanics Phils., Ford Motor Company Philippines, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., Honda Cars Philippines, Inc., IBM Solutions Delivery Inc., Bayer Crop Science, Inc., Yamaha Motors, Philippines, Kraft Foods Philippines, United Laboratories, Inc., Panasonic Manufacturing Philippines Corporation and Swedish Match Phils.

Among the most impressive graduates of this model technical school (it inspired a law passed by Philippine Congress) are young technicians in their early 20s who work as aircraft mechanics maintaining the fleet of airplanes of some of the leading international airlines in the world. They have passed the most stringent requirements of German, Swiss, Japanese, and other managers famous for their passion for excellence because Dualtech does not only build the technical skills of its students. It also develops values and virtues through a system of mentoring unparalelled among TESDA schools in the country.

Dualtech has two campuses, one in Binondo and the other in Canlubang. In both campuses, Dualtech prepares students to be employed even before the end of the training program through "learning while doing." The Dual Training System, which originated in Germany and transferred to the Philippines with the help of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the early 1980s, consists of two learning venues: school and industry. The training plan is jointly developed by Dualtech and partner companies. The course runs for 24 months. During the first stage, trainees study the basic of electrical, electronic, and mechanical technology. The second part of the course is the Dual Training System where the students spend five days a week working in a partner factory or company, and one day in Dualtech for continuing personal development. Factory managers in their partner companies literally swear to the effectiveness of the system in producing highly motivated, hardworking and honest workers.

Organized as a not-for-profit organization, Dualtech is making a contribution to eradicating poverty in the National Capital Region by catering to the children of families living in the depressed districts of the metropolitan area. At the same time, it helps to increase the productivity of many manufacturing enterprises, enabling Philippine industry to compete with other Asian countries. Thanks partly to Dualtech, Philippine manufacturing has not been totally wiped out by competition from China, Vietnam and other labor-surplus countries. It cultivates the following skills among Filipino youth: the basic skills of measuring, technical drawing, benchwork skills, basic electronics, basic electricity, materials basics, industrial safety, and computer literacy; the industrial skills of electrical wiring and machining; additional skills of industrial motors, digital electronics, basic automation, pumps and compressors and maintenance practice. But most important of all, in addition to these technical skills, the Dualtech graduate is steeped in virtues and values that make him contribute significantly to the mission of the organization to which he belongs.

The year 2009 was problematic for the school because of the big drop in the production of many of the export-oriented companies that employ its graduates. The Manila campus had to be closed since placement in the first quarter of 2009 dropped from 1,000 to 750. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that by mid-2009, Dualtech proved to be "ahead of the curve." Even before the strong recovery of the US market in the last quarter of 2009, demand for Dualtech graduates already started increasing. As an economist, I use the employment of Dualtech graduates as a leading indicator of economic activity in such major economies as the US and Japan. By the first quarter of 2010, the school is already experiencing a shortage of students that can be provided to the partner companies. The Binondo campus has already been reopened. Additional poor families will now be benefited as their teenage sons get an opportunity to be employed only after two years of the dual training at Dualtech.

Companies who are interested in partnering with Dualtech may contact Mr. Marvin Adolfo at 888-6426 or email info@dualtech.org.ph. Partnering with Dualtech not only addresses the need for highly qualified electromechanical workers but also contributes to addressing the problem of poverty in the Metro Manila area. For comments, my email address is bvillegas@uap.edu.ph.

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