EDC to employ 120 Bicolano youth for expansion project

By Connie D. Calipay


SOME 120 youth from host communities of Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in Bacon (Sorsogon)-Manito (Albay) geothermal facility (BacMan) in the Bicol region will soon upgrade their skills and become nation builders through skills development training.


France Loyola, EDC public relations specialist recently said Leyte-based Keitech Foundation, Inc., First Balfour, Inc., Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the local government of Sorsogon City signed a memorandum of understanding last Apr. 20 that will enhance and develop the skills of qualified young residents from BacMan’s host communities.


“The training will start this May and it will give them a chance to be employed by First Balfour in the project in EDC’s upcoming Palayan Binary Power Plant (PBPP),” she said.


The PBPP is the company’s binary expansion project in its BacMan site, which is targeted to be completed in 2022 and is expected to boost BacMan’s installed capacity by about 29 megawatts (MW).


The geothermal facility is currently composed of the 110-MW BacMan I and 20-MW BacMan II power plants. EDC has awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction of PBPP to First Balfour after a meticulous competitive bidding process.


Layola added that on top of the skills development trainings that will be provided by Keitech, values formation will also be a key priority of the training program to prepare the trainees for employment not just for the PBPP but also for other opportunities after the project by ensuring that they have the professionalism and the right attitude towards work.


EDC President and Chief Operating Officer Richard B. Tantoco in a statement said values formation is one of the most important parts of the training program. This, according to him, is the foundation of dreams that will enable the trainees to dream big and win big.


“In [the] Lopez Group, we believe that education really is the key to unlock opportunities. With a little bit of education and a little bit of luck, I think we can really change the future of some of these kids. But it’s not just the skills, it has to be skills, values, aspirations, and ambitions,” Tantoco said.


Under the agreement, 120 individuals from the host communities in Sorsogon City and Manito, Albay will undergo a three-month training that will be supervised by Keitech Foundation and TESDA.


The program incorporates an end-to-end that will train the participants in their chosen qualification, whether Scaffolding and Masonry Works, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, and Electrical Installation Maintenance for potential employment.


The graduates will then be assessed and certified for National Certification II by TESDA Sorsogon and will undergo On-the-Job training and possible employment at First Balfour. Keitech has a consistent 100 percent passing rate for all its trainees in the past 12 years.


“One of the goals of First Balfour, even before I joined the company 20 years ago, is to try to make the area we operate a much better place than we found it. There are two areas where we deliberately put an effort into. First is education. Our CSR projects normally are about improving public education facilities. The second is job creation. Today if you look at the workforce of First Balfour, a large chunk of people came from where we operated before,” First Balfour President and CEO Anthony Fernandez said.


“The skills we are looking to develop in this program are very important in the construction industry. This really allows us to develop more people. Hopefully, we can bring them not just in our projects in Bicol but also to our projects in other parts of the country,” he added.


For its part, Sorsogon City LGU, will ensure continued support to the training program and that the nominated scholars will complete the technical training.


Sorsogon City Mayor Ester Hamor also expressed her gratitude to the institutions that are part of the program.


“On behalf of the City of Sorsogon, I thank EDC, TESDA and Keitech. This is an opportunity for our constituents to rise above economic challenges, and for this, we are truly grateful. Malaking tulong ang tech-voc training na ito,(this is a big help) and with the assurance na kukunin at bibigyan ng trabaho ng EDC ang trainees, tiyak na maraming buhay ang magbabago. ( that they will get and hire the trainee, for sure many lives will change). We look forward to partnering with you towards a better and bright future for Sorsogon City,” Hamor said.