The global economy is increasingly becoming more complex and competitive, and this has led to organizations requiring employees with highly specialized skillsets—particularly those with training and a solid background in technical and vocational (Tech-Voc) courses.
The Philippines is deemed to be a key player in the labor market. Aside from its large young population with innate talent and curiosity, there’s also the fact that millions of Filipino youth are choosing to move forward in life by pursuing Tech-Voc education.
The diploma course also increases the youth’s employment opportunities—especially those from low-income households—after finishing tertiary education. Graduating with practical experience in their chosen field helps them hit the ground running once they begin their full-time job.
Mark Tesoro and Jake dela Cruz are just two of the many aspiring youths who were able to steer their life in a new direction through their SM Technical-Vocational scholarships.
Fueled for more
Mark has always been fascinated by auto mechanics and has always wanted to pursue a career related to this. But, as the eldest, he felt the need to pause his dreams and work right after grade 12. He knew that he had to support his mother, who works two part-time jobs as a manicurist and laundry woman, to sustain the needs of a family of five.
“Mahilig po akong obserbahan ang mga jeepney driver na nag-aayos ng mga sasakyan dito sa amin. Parang na a-amaze ako kung ano ang ginagawa nila at kung paano nila naaayos ‘yun,” Mark shared.
“After ko po mag-graduate ng Grade 12, hindi na po talaga ako mag-aaral kasi iniisip ko, magta-trabaho na lang po ako para makatulong,” he added.
But Mark always had his mind set on his dreams. So upon learning from one of his teachers that SM Prime, through SM Foundation, offers Tech-Voc scholarships to deserving students from poverty-hit families, he took his shot and got in.
He persevered in his classes and was persistent during his internship at a motor company.
“Natutuwa ako na nakapasok ako bilang scholar. Bayad na po ‘yung tuition ko, tapos may allowance pa ako. Ang sobra ay naipon ko pambili ng service kong bike,” he said.
“At noong OJT time po namin, nag-apply po ako sa iba’t ibang casa dahil pursigido po talaga ako maabot ang pangarap ko para sa magulang ko—na nasa bahay na lang sila at hindi na sila nahihirapan at hindi na nila iisipin ang kakainin namin sa araw-araw,” he added.
After earning his diploma and getting specialized automotive education from SM Foundation’s partner school Don Bosco Technical Institute of Makati, he was ready to put his dreams into action.
He was hired by the company where he interned, and little by little, he was able to help his mother with their family’s daily needs. And from saving for a bike through his SM scholarship, Mark is fueled for more and is now saving up for his dream repair shop.
Toward bigger dreams
Mark lost several breadwinners in the family—a situation that urged him and his mom to work together to sustain their daily needs while saving up for their future.
“Pagkatapos ni Jake mag-graduate, tinanong ko siya kung anong gusto niya. Ang sabi niya sa akin, gusto niya mag-aral. Pero sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Di ba pwedeng mag-work ka muna kasi hindi kakayanin? Pero alam ko, may pangarap talaga siya,” Ligaya Dela Cruz, Jake’s mother, said.
When Jake learned about the SM Tech-Voc scholarship, he immediately applied. As soon as he got in, Ligaya couldn’t help but shed a tear.
“Napaiyak po talaga ako at nasabi kong kung wala ang SM, paano si Jake. Malaki rin po ang impact ng scholarship sa pamilya namin. Mayroong pang-everyday na gastos si Jake at nakakatulong din po ito sa pangkain namin, at sa nakababata niyang kapatid na nag-aaral din,” she shared.
As Jake works and applies his learnings from his Tech-Voc course, he now has the ability to set aside money for one of his dreams: earning a college diploma.
To complement the efforts of local governments to provide education for gainful employment, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) together with SM Foundation, Don Bosco One TVET Phils. Inc., and the City of Pasay launched the SM – Pasay Tech-voc Scholarship Program to offer a full technical vocational scholarship to financially challenged families residing in Pasay City. Aside from free tuition, the program also provides monthly allowance and enrichment activities to program beneficiaries.
SM, through SM Foundation’s scholarship program, has been providing deserving and qualified students access to college education and technical-vocational studies since 1993. To date, SMFI has produced more than 8,000 college and tech-voc scholar-graduates nationwide.