It has been said that employees are the key to the creation of a sustainable competitive advantage. But how could you cultivate your employees as a competitive advantage when the people qualified to do the job needed to be done is moving out of the country to seek greener pastures? How will you provide the manpower needed for a project when those who are available doesn’t have training and experience doing such work? Ms. Paulette Liu’s project became the solution to this dilemma.
Primary Structures Educational Foundation, Inc. (PSEFI) has been a project of Ms. Liu. PSEFI is the corporate social responsibility arm of the Primary Group of Builders (PGB) that provides training to construction workers in Southern Philippines. PSEFI operating through the School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor Leadership and Service (SKILLS) became the leading training and certifying institution on technical-vocational courses in all construction-related trades and sole training and certifying entity for heavy equipment operations in the country, founded in 2008.
“We were badly hit by the exodus of our engineers and technical skilled workers to the Middle East with the surge of OFWs many years back. It was definitely a war for talent and there was an influx of big players from Manila coming to Cebu, pirating and poaching our people. There was definitely a shortage of skilled labor and a big skills competency gap. The available skills were not what the industry needed. There was also a lack of technical experts. This was a big problem for the construction industry.” said by Ms. Liu, Chief Operating Officer of Skills, when asked about how PSEFI and SKILLS started.
With that said, the Primary Group of Builders decided to that they could no longer wait for things to happen and do nothing. They want to make things better. To tackle this problem, they created PSEFI.
PSEFI and SKILLS became a foundation advocating technical vocational training to address poverty reduction, talent shortage and to strengthen national competitiveness. By providing them with the skills, the organization will enable them to take advantage of economic opportunities and contribute in the social development of the nation.
SKILLS currently have three flagship programs. First is the K – 12 program which the company piloted for the whole Philippines on 2016. Second, a project that empowers women by training them with the construction skills needed in the industry. Third program provides training to the hearing impaired by providing them with the technical skills that could contribute to the community such as working in hotels/restaurants among others.
These are just some of the training programs that has caught the attention of the public.
To access the full list of the registered training programs, you may visit http://bit.ly/PSEFISKILLS.
It is said that the core of being an entrepreneur is financial empowerment but for Ms. Paulette Liu, making money wasn’t her goal but to make meaning.
“When we started the foundation, we had no students. No one believed in what we can do, we had no funding and our competitors, the industry itself, thought that we are competing with them and that we were their competitors but that was not the case. We wanted to become more meaningful by providing more opportunities to the marginalized members of the community. Doing this gives us more meaning as a Human Resource professional” she elaborated.
Since most men tend to leave after they finished their training it means that their manpower problem still wasn’t addressed, it became another challenge for the company.
“Since men usually leave, why not train the women? For the first time, we changed the status quo by advocating gender equality, empowering women and inspiring positive change. We have trained and certified women in the construction industry producing the first lady heavy equipment operators, lady carpenters, lady masons and recently we just finished the training of lady handywomen. With equal determination, these women raved to us that they can do and stand toe to toe among their male counterparts. We help these women realize their potential and achieve their dreams of a better and brighter future.”
Indeed, the birth of skills have greatly contributed to societal goals by addressing talent shortage and skills competency gaps in Cebu. Its technical vocational courses have built the capacity and contributed economic development while improving the quality of life of its workforce, community and environment.
LIU’S 5 P’S
In an interview, Ms Liu said that she was following her 5 P’s which is the reason why PSEFI and SKILLS are now thriving.
Purpose – your intention to contribute to the well-being of others, thinking for the greater good, what we do or will do matters to people other than ourselves. This becomes the seed of your passion. To make a difference to the lives of people and to enable them to become better this will motivate you to pursue what you want in life.
Passion – passion to serve. Love what you do. Passion to deliver the best in what you do and this is your driving force to lead you to the next P, which is perseverance.
Perseverance and grit to overcome adversity – never give up or abandon what you do. Do not be afraid to fail. Failures, challenges, they are always there. Failures are not signs of weakness; these are just lessons to be learned. And a potential opportunity to make us better.
Pursue excellence – always innovate and improve and success will chase you. Dare to be different. Have the growth and innovative mindset.
Power of prayers – this is the very core of her life. This will make you overcome challenges. All the pain, limitation and obstacles that you will encounter in your journey but this is also the thing that will make real change happen.
Over the years, PSEFI has been helping people realize their potential. Inspiring their trainees to go beyond their limits and pursue their dreams for a better and brighter future.
Ms. Paulette Liu, who wholeheartedly dedicated substantial amount of her time and resources, is definitely a role model for entrepreneurs to follow.