Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) come with huge challenges for many Filipinos. Access to quality education and technology is often seen as key to success in this area. What’s more, more pressure has recently been placed on job seekers and professionals to not only receive proper education and training, but also develop new skills to adapt to industry 4.0 changes and digital transformations.
Three seasoned electricians talk about their journey to becoming a practicing electrician, the current situation in the Philippines, and their support for Master SWITCH, a program by Schneider Electric to create community and opportunity for every Filipino electrician. What started as a Facebook group has grown into a safe space where both licensed and unlicensed electrical professionals can work together to make the electrical field more accessible to Filipinos.
Navigating the Electrical Industry in the Philippines
“The regulatory environment in the Philippines has changed a lot since I became a licensed electrician. Computer skills are essential for engineers to keep up in this technological field. The Regulatory Commission requires full training in safety procedures before one can be qualified to take the licensing exam,” said engineer Jaime A. Paco, founder of Impedanz Engineering Review Training & Consultancy Inc.
As licensed professionals, electricians must comply with safety standards in their profession. The Department of Labor enforces strict adherence to the Philippine Electrical Code to train worldwide competent engineers. However, very few engineers were privileged enough to access safety training programs. The Schneider Electric Master SWITCH program provides aspiring electricians with opportunities to meet licensed practitioners who are willing to provide free training and development programs for their own development. While the Master SWITCH program has a set budget for training and development, there are still longtime members who have committed to mentoring unlicensed electricians.
“If aspiring electricians don’t get any training or reference material, they will fall behind in the electrical industry as it is very demanding,” said Paco, who founded his company to fill gaps in the country’s electrical engineering education and training systems. “Our community connections, along with our verification programs, help unlicensed medical practitioners become licensed electricians as our members have a diverse set of knowledge.”
The Master SWITCH program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to partner with Schneider Electric thanks to their huge community. Program participants include consultants, educators, founders and engineers specializing in power systems, robotics, and more. As an active participant in the program, Jaime Paco expanded the reach of clients across the country through his review center. What’s more, it offers exclusive discounts to Master SWTICH members, making the electrical field more accessible to the younger generation.
Access to resources and the network
Electricians without a license can access a variety of materials by joining and participating in the Master SWITCH program. As a leader in sustainable innovation, Schneider Electric offers quality products as well as installment payment options to the electrical community through the program. Keeping the workplace safe with the right tools and technology has helped prevent electrical hazards to members of the community. In addition, Schneider Electric’s offerings also encourage unlicensed practitioners to become licensed by gaining access to products that make the installment process more efficient.
“There are many unlicensed qualified electricians in the Philippines who work under the supervision of licensed electricians instead of taking the licensing exam themselves. As licensed professionals, it is important that we support them and enable them to obtain a license,” said Filomeno Ducay, one of the original members of Master SWITCH and co-founder of the Registered Master Electricians of the Philippines, an organization that aims to protect the rights of registered electricians across the country.
The Master SWITCH program also serves as an open forum where both licensed and non-licensed electricians can discuss their best practices, concerns, and perspectives from different disciplines and highly specialized areas. The program has inspired unlicensed electricians to pass the licensing exam through mentoring opportunities and genuine peer referrals to further their professional career advancement. The Philippine Electrical Code is regularly debated and this encourages electricians to obtain proper engineering law papers for their practice.
“I joined Master SWITCH when it first opened in 2019, on the recommendation of a colleague,” said Neil Arendine, the youngest of the three electricians in terms of experience in the field. He is an electrician by experience and is keen to develop his practice. “Master SWITCH has helped me connect with other unlicensed practitioners like myself, as well as learn from more experienced licensed electricians. The Master SWITCH community has given me the opportunity to pursue a career in this field and I plan to start my path to licensing.”
“Joining Master SWITCH is especially beneficial for new electrical professionals, and many of them participate in the program. When they are given access to resources and networking opportunities, they tend to return to the company as well,” Ducay said.
Empowering a New Generation of Filipino Electricians
Electricians such as Arendain, Dukay and Paco have devoted their efforts to making the electrical field more accessible to the younger generation. and Paco continues his mission of empowering candidates through proper education and training. Together with Master SWITCH, these electricians continue to develop and support programs and educational initiatives to equip aspiring electricians with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their chosen field.
By supporting Master SWITCH and Schneider Electric and their advocacy work, they have encouraged active community participation in project-based events. The Schneider Electric Master SWITCH program reached out to electricians across the country, while select members sought accreditation to step up efforts to encourage more Filipinos to pursue this career.