San Miguel Corporation (SMC), in cooperation with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), has expanded its livelihood skills and job training program in Sariaya, Quezon province to address unemployment and lack of opportunities due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the country since March.
The SMC-TESDA Sariaya project is the second such program that SMC has launched in a week, following the opening of a similar program last September 30 in Bulacan province, where the company is building the P734 billion Manila International Airport, seen to create more than a million direct and indirect jobs during its construction, and about 30 million tourism-related jobs once it’s completed.
SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said the partnership with TESDA, headed by its Director General Isidro Lapena, will equip residents in Sariaya and Bulacan with new skills that will allow them to take advantage of more job and livelihood opportunities and become more resilient in this time of pandemic.
In Sariaya, SMC is set to build a modern, state-of-the-art integrated agro-industrial complex that will include a brewery, grains terminal and feedmill, a ready-to-eat food manufacturing plant, a fuel tank farm, and port facilities.
“We are fast-tracking the training and skills development of residents in areas where we are making big investments and building new facilities, because we want to them to come work for us. Apart from training those who want to get jobs, we’re also equipping other members of the communities with skills to build their own small businesses that can directly or indirectly support our workers,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said.
“Our goal since this pandemic started has been to create as many jobs we can by pushing through with our major investments. This is how we can best support our economy, and help in a meaningful and sustainable way so many Filipinos who are struggling through this crisis,” he added.
At the same time, Ang said that investing in major facilities and infrastructure will pump much-needed funds into the economy, further accelerating the country’s present and post-pandemic recovery.
“It’s important that we remember that we are not just building for the present. We are actually building for the future. For the short- to medium-term we’re providing jobs for locals, those who lost their jobs, or for returning OFWs. But for the long term, we’re actually helping build the foundations of our country’s future economic growth,” he said.
For the Sariaya project, the initial batch of trainees consist of 50 residents from San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes, a first-of-its kind, disaster-resilient, sustainable housing community built by SMC for former settlers in properties to be used for its development.
They are set to start training in Organic/Urban Farming/Edible Landscaping and Fish/Meat Processing for 20 and 10 days, respectively. The program is being done in cooperation with the local government of Sariaya under Mayor Marcelo Gayeta.
“These courses are for free. Once we have completed the training of all San Miguel-Christian Gayeta residents, we will be opening these TESDA courses to whole of Sariaya and Pagbilao for those who are willing to learn and want to have new livelihood opportunities,” Ang said.
And added: “Through the housing community we’ve built here in Sariaya, these training programs and future jobs opportunities, we want to show local communities that apart from investing in their province, we are invested and committed to the future of their people. We’re doing the same exact thing in Bulacan, where we’re building an airport. At San Miguel, our goal is to enable more Filipinos to contribute to, and benefit from economic growth–to leave no one behind,” he added.
Residents from the San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Village can also avail of courses at the Quezon National Agricultural School (QNAS) under the scholarship program with TESDA. These courses include Welding, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Baking and Pastry, and Housekeeping.
Enrollees in organic agriculture will work on enhancing their skills at the 1,000 square-meter plot that was set aside by SMC at a 5.4-hectare area in the new residential community located in Barangay Castanas. This will provide them and their families a regular harvest of vegetables for personal consumption and also for selling in the area. Bishop Mel Rey Uy of Lucena and Vice Governor Sam Nantes attended the launch.
A total of 125 qualified families have already availed of free house and lot packages in the housing project that has a total of 450 units, out of which 378 units have already been built.
San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes residents who will complete their Fish Processing course will be provided with a commercial area in the subdivision where they can sell their products.
Apart from the skills and training support, SMC has also provided educational assistance to a total of 30 students in high school, seniors, and college who are all residents of the sustainable housing project.