SM Foundation, along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Skills and Development Authority, is ramping up efforts to open more employment opportunities to the marginalized sector with the launch of the SM Asensong Pinoy Program.
Launched in the fourth quarter of 2021, the program aims to increase the employability of Filipinos and address community issues, such as poverty and unemployment, through skills development. The program provides core work skills and industry-based competencies that facilitate transition to the formal sector.
Under the SM Apprenticeship Program, participants undergo 900 hours (four-and-a-half months) of training to master the skills needed by prospective employers like cashiering, barcoding, responding to customers’ queries and manning customer service booths, among others.
The trainees are recommended and endorsed by the DSWD and DOLE’s PESO. Kathleen Agbannawag, who oversees the program, said that SM Foundation taps beneficiaries of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The apprentices receive allowances equivalent from 75 percent to 100 percent of the mandated minimum wage rate prevailing in the locality.
Agbannawag said that when the first Apprenticeship Program was launched, there were 20 apprentices and the 18 who completed training were immediately hired by SM Markets.
The first batch was trained on the different aspects of customer service—from the technical and hands-on training to a module on values formation.
Inspired with the success of its initial program run, SM Foundation intends to offer other courses such as Warehousing NC2. After the training, participants will then be assessed, and those who will pass will then be offered employment by SM affiliate companies such as the SM Homeworld.
“In order for the training program to be successful and sustainable, we at SMFI also intend to match our trainees with our affiliates at SM to employ all of our apprentices after the training, subject of course to the technical evaluation by our partners,” Agbannawag said.
“Education, vocational training and lifelong learning are central pillars of employability and sustainable enterprise development. Skills development is a key in stimulating a sustainable enterprise development process and can contribute in facilitating the transition of Filipinos from the informal to the formal economy,” Agbannawag said.
SM Foundation expanded the program this year to Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Zambales, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon and the National Capital Region as the new sites of the Apprenticeship Program. Selection of the sites is based on the SM affiliates’ branches where apprentices are needed.