Readying Cebu’s workforce while waiting for ‘RE boom’

Source: Cebu Daily News – June 20, 2018
Author: Rosalie O. Abatayo


Vivant Foundation partners with DepEd to provide students skills to handle solar power equipment

The future of the energy industry needs a workforce that is competent to handle services and equipment to harness renewable energy, such as solar power.

Mark Habana, Vivant Corporation’s Vice President for Commercial Operations, said Vivant Foundation found out about this need for a competent workforce in the renewable energy sector during the Vivant Foundation’s move to equip off grid areas in the country with solar equipment.

Habana said that the increasing cost of coal plant operations and the public awareness towards renewable energy would propel the potentials of solar power operations.

“The projection is that our present (total) energy demand would be folded into three and half by 2040. The question left is how much of that is solar. That’s for everyone to guess,” said Habana.

Habana said that the current situation of the coal plant operations and the cost and power efficiency of solar batteries might be the avenue to pave the way for the demand of solar energy to shoot up.

Vivant Foundation

Shem Jose Garcia, Vivant Foundation executive director, said that the Filipino workforce is not yet equipped with the knowledge in solar energy services.

“Even though the demand for solar (energy) is increasing, the workforce does not have the skills in that area,” said Garcia.

“The preferred ratio of local workers in the industry is 70 percent of the total population, but we don’t have enough here for the demand. Right now we have to source from

outside, mostly from Manila,” Garcia said.

Vivant Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Vivant Corporation, has been going around the country to donate solar equipment in off-grid areas.

“We asked if we can incorporate Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) with solar to the donee community. And that was when we found out that solar EIM doesn’t exist in the Filipino education system,” said Garcia.

New curriculum

With that, Vivant Foundation partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to formulate a new curriculum on solar power EIM in senior high schools.

P1.2M donation

On June 18, Monday, Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School received P1.2 million worth of solar power EIM equipment including solar panels and batteries from Vivant Foundation.

“Part of our donation is the education of existing EIM teachers to have their certification from Tesda in the solar power EIM,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that they hope to generate a fit and competent workforce from the senior high school students who would benefit from the project.

“But now we selected Mandaue Comprehensive in order to have that workforce in a couple of years. Now there is rising demand but its not yet like that of in abroad where it suddenly explode. We think that’s going to happen in the future especially that the battery is getting cheaper and more efficient,” said Garcia.

“That is why a part of the curriculum is not just installing the solar but its setting them up to understand how the batteries work. So they understand the entire system,” he added.

EIM graduates

Although he could not assure a 100 percent employment for the solar power EIM certified graduates to be immediately accommodated in the energy industry, Garcia said that the students could still work on the conventional electrical installation jobs.

“Every school that we visited that offers EIM is lacking the regular equipment. So until that boom happens, they still can work as the regular electrician job. That’s why the large bulk of the donations are regular electrical equipment,” said Garcia.

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