Skills training

Single mother to construction worker builds family’s future

Motivated to broaden her horizons and build her family's future by upskilling and increasing her income, a 49-year-old woman joined and benefited from ILO skills training.

Feature | 31 March 2023
Jocelyn is one the 93 TVET graduates under the ILO Skills for Prosperity’s pilot implementation in the construction industry. Cebu City, Philippines, 03/2023. © Minette Rimando/ILO
MANDAUE CITY, PHILIPPINES – As a single mother, Jocelyn Uy Albrio had to provide for the family and send her five children to school.

“I told myself that, by God’s grace, I can handle this. I must do this. My youngest was 10 and my eldest was in college when my husband and I separated. I began working to provide for them,” Jocelyn recalled.

She started to make and sell doughnuts, munchkins and puto cheese (steamed rice cake with cheese). In addition, she offered in-home massage service.

Her second son, who had just finished a two-year associate degree in Information Technology, had to work as a production worker in Malaysia for four years to pay for the education of his younger siblings.

Women have difficulty accessing and completing quality education and training programmes, as well as transition to decent work. "

Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines
Although her third son got a full college scholarship, the costs of his architecture school projects were almost 5,000 pesos (US $90) a week, which put a big dent on the family’s resources.
Jocelyn, who was limited to low-skilled, low-paying jobs, was motivated to broaden her horizons and increase her income through skills training. Yet as a woman and at the age of 49, she faced several barriers.

“Women have difficulty accessing and completing quality education and training programmes, as well as transition to decent work. They are more likely to be in vulnerable employment, such as unpaid family work and informal employment without social protection. Family and caregiving responsibilities often limit their ability to get training and join the labour force. This is a very concerning trend made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for the Philippines.

Through the Skills for Prosperity Programme in the Philippines (SfP-Philippines), funded by the UK government and implemented with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Cebu Contractors Association, Inc., the ILO provided industry-specific skills training and vocational guidance to 93 trainees, including Jocelyn, from November 2022 to February 2023. The training is part of SfP-Philippines’ pilot on an inclusive, area-based and industry-led lifelong learning model in Visayas Region 7.
After the ILO skills training and vocational guidance, Jocelyn got employed in construction at age 49. Cebu City, Philippines, 03/2023. © Minette Rimando/ILO
The partnership ensured equal access to skills training and lifelong learning – especially for women, youth, marginalized and disadvantaged groups. In the tri-city pilot implementation areas of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue, where construction is a growing industry, women are underrepresented due to gender stereotypes and occupational segregation.

She immediately got interested in the training since during her highschool years she has previously learned basic carpentry from her father who was then working as a carpenter, driver and mechanic. However, she had misgivings in attending the training and as a result lose her income for even a single day without work.

“I was convinced and encouraged to enrol in the ILO training as it was offered for free, and we would be certified upon completion. The Department of Labor and Employment now requires a National Certificate II (NC II) to work in construction. More importantly, we were given an allowance. I cannot afford to lose even one day of income, so I used it for daily transportation, food and other expenses,” said Jocelyn.

Jocelyn speaks at the graduation ceremony on 3 March 2023 in Cebu. ©Minette Rimando/ILO
After completing 38 days of training, Jocelyn is now working at Primary Structures Corporation, a multimillion-dollar construction company in Cebu. According to Jocelyn, the training enabled her to understand theories and then apply them on the job through hands-on, real-world experiences.

Despite her age, Jocelyn is determined to get additional skills training in reinforced steel works and masonry. She said this will help her realize her dream to travel or work overseas.

Through industry-specific vocational guidance, she learned not only about employment opportunities in construction but also about entrepreneurship. She has run a business informally before, so she thinks that organizing a group of subcontractors is another way for her to have a better future and break barriers in the construction industry.