AWS certification in Davao to make RP welders world class

Filipino welders are known for their world-class skills but the establishment of the American Welding Society (AWS) Test Facility Center in the city will make them more competitive in the world market.

“The ASW Certification is recognized by companies in the Middle East so a welder who has this certification can immediately get employment there without retesting,” Technical Education and Skills Development Authority(Tesda) XI Regional Director Gaspar Gayona said in an interview.

The Testing Center was established after the signing last year of a
memorandum agreement between Tesda and the Middle East Industrial Training Institute in the United Arab Emirates (MEITI-UAE). AWS has accredited MEITI-UAE as an international agent for AWS certification and as a certified welding fabricator.

“This is the only center in the Philippines so even those from Luzon and Visayas who want to get AWS Certification can get tested here in Davao,” he said.

Mr. Gayona said Dabawenyo welders, or even Filipino welders who get hired in Middle East countries only have their NCII (National Certification II) which is not enough. What happens, he said, is that they are still retrained outside and their skills reassessed in the Middle East.

“We want our welders to be ready for employment when they reach the Middle East and the other countries requiring welders so we asked our partner in Abu Dhabi to bring the assessment agency here in Davao City,” he said.

The AWS Accredited Test Facility possess all the minimum test facilities required by AWS when it comes to the personnel, equipment and the accreditation test for welders.

Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva said the MOA between Tesda and MEITI-UAE aims to upgrade the skills of Filipino graduates of technical-vocational education trainings like welding. Up to P20 million worth of training equipment was provided by MEITI-UAE to help welders become world-class.

Among the first trainees of the 10-day free American Welding Society-Certified Welding Inspector (AWS-CWI) Preparatory Examination Seminar held in the city last May are Dabawenyos. Mr. Gayona said all Tesda trainors all over the country were among those who took the certification exam last July 29, the results of which are yet to be released.

“The result of the exam will help us determine if we need to make changes in our curriculum so that our welders can level up to the global standards,” he said. The AWS-CWI certification is recognized by the world’s welding industry so welders with AWS certification will have an edge over the others, he added.

Mr. Gayona said welders are highly in demand all over the world including the construction industry, shipyard industry and fabricator industry. He said the various technical and vocational trainings provided by Tesda aside from welding open new world of opportunities for Dabawenyo workers.

Tesda XI is eyeing 62 thousands graduates under the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program year after it achieved its target of 58 thousand graduates in 2012. Out of the 58,000 TVET graduates last year, around 85 percent were expected to get certification assessment.

However, Mr. Gayona said not all of the TVET graduates will take an assessment exam for a variety of reasons.”Some will undergo more training since they are not yet confident about their skills while others will be concerned with their finances,” he said.

He said 65 percent of their graduates last year got certified and 60 percent of those who were certified are now employed mostly in the metals and engineering industry. Tesda XI conducted a profiling of priority industries last year to help solve the problem of job mismatch and came up with five priority industries for the region including metals and engineering, tourism, agriculture, information and communication technology and construction.

Mr. Gayona said the profiling will help ensure that the graduates of the TVET program will find jobs after their graduation. Tesda is also closely working with the priority industry clusters to determine the available jobs and compare these with the existing skills of the graduates.

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