‘Upskilled’ women find new, better job prospects
A group of women is ready to boldly go where few have gone before.
These women in their mid-20s and early 30s, most of whom are employed, were the first graduates of a free “upskilling” training program to increase their potential for employment, broaden their job options, enhance their promotion and financial prospects and even open the possibility of starting their own enterprises.
They were trained in data science, the process of extracting useful knowledge and insights from the voluminous data available, and digital marketing, which has increased in importance as more commercial transactions are done in cyberspace.
The free training program was organized by For the Women (FTW) Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate the upward economic mobility of financially disadvantaged women through free world-class technical education.
Cara Wilson, FTW cofounder, stressed the impact of upgrading women’s skills, particularly in an increasingly digital environment.
A few hours of training could significantly improve performance and open up new growth opportunities, she said.
“It is very easy to overlook the importance of training,” she said.
She pointed out that, with their newly acquired skills, the graduates of FTW’s upskilling program had started to get multiple job offers.
She said the two technology courses the program offered, data science and digital marketing, were the most in-demand skills.
The newly minted data scientists, for instance, would be a much welcome addition in a field that needed more than 500 trained people but had less than 10 to do the job.
“The data science course was more a masteral level kind of training and would cost a lot [in a formal education setting],” Wilson said.
There are also very few schools offering the program.
For its upskilling program, FTW, in partnership with corporate and individual donors, offers full scholarships to 30 women, aged 16 and above. The intensive three-month training program is handled by instructors using the latest tools and techniques.
FTW started its training program as it identified two significant challenges for Filipino women in the job market related to education: investment in human capital and increase in digital competitiveness.
New graduates and job seekers, especially women, were most vulnerable to these issues, it found.
“Only half of working-age women are in the labor force [and some] 40 percent of women employed are engaged in unstable jobs, limiting their opportunities to income and careers in the future,” it said.
Under the program, the FTW scholar will learn technology skills that “matter in tomorrow’s businesses.”
The scholar will receive more than 72 hours of intensive training in a high-value, in-demand skill, with world-class standards.
After the training, FTW introduces new job opportunities and continues to give the graduate personal development assistance.
FTW’s “sponsored training” model not only involved sponsors for the upskilling program but also employment partners to enable the graduates to put to use their newly learned skills.
Some of the program’s major employment partners are Accenture, Maybank, Standard Insurance and Zuellig Pharma.
FTW Foundation aims to train 5,000 Filipino women and yield over $50 million (about P250 million at a peso-dollar exchange rate of P50) in annual net salary increases.
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who was the graduation speaker, encouraged the new graduates to consider going into business on their own.
He said some 92 percent of the country’s economy relied on microenterprises while only about 1 percent were truly big businesses.
The senator said the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises were providing more employment and a firmer foundation for the country’s development.
Aquino added that a bill pending in Congress would strengthen startups and give them the support they needed to flourish.
The recent graduation ceremonies also featured the awarding of special prizes to some participants:
The FTW Above And Beyond Award, which recognizes a scholar chosen by her peers as their voice, was presented to Jeseliza Kim (data science) and Jourdaine Bernardez (digital marketing).
LA Castillo (data science) and Jo de Castro (digital marketing) received the FTW Game Changer Award, which recognizes a scholar, chosen by her instructors, who has displayed exceptional upskilling and aptitude for her chosen skill area, among others.
The Aurora Nemenzo Almendral Award, which recognizes a scholar, chosen by FTW cofounders, who displays the ambition, attitude and technical excellence to make a meaningful positive societal impact through work in her chosen field, was presented to Nam Shekina Desembrana (data science). —CONTRIBUTED