January 30, 2023

Xpat Pinoy

XPAT PINOY – World News for Pinoys

Schneider Electric’s Master SWITCH program creates a better path for Filipino electricians

Pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) presents great challenges for many Filipinos. Access to quality education and technology is often seen as a key factor to succeed in this field. Furthermore, lately, there is an added pressure on aspirants and professionals alike not only to get the right education and training, but also to develop new skills to adapt to the changes of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation.

Three veteran electricians share their journey to becoming an electrical practitioner, the current landscape in the Philippines, and their advocacy for the Master SWITCH program – a Schneider Electric program that aims to build community and provide opportunities for every Filipino electrician. What started as a Facebook group has grown into a safe place for both licensed and unlicensed electrical practitioners to work together to make the electrical field more accessible to Filipinos.

Navigating the Electrical Industry in the Philippines

“The regulatory landscape in the Philippines has changed significantly since I became a Licensed Electrical Practitioner. Computer skills are required for engineers to compete in this technology-driven field. The Regulatory Commission requires full training in safety procedures before one can qualify for the licensure exam,” said Engineer Jaime A. Paco, Founder of Impedance Engineering Review Training & Consultancy Inc.

As a licensed practitioner, electricians must adhere to the safety standards of their professional practice. The Department of Labor has enforced strict adherence to the Philippine Electrical Code to produce competent engineers worldwide. However, very few engineers have had the privilege of access to safety training programs. Schneider Electric’s Master SWITCH program provides aspiring electricians with networking opportunities to meet licensed practitioners who are willing to offer free training and development programs to advance their skills. While the Master SWITCH program has a fixed budget for training and development, there are still long-standing members who have made it their mission to mentor unlicensed electricians.

“If aspiring electricians don’t receive training or resource materials, they will be left behind in the energy industry because it’s very demanding,” said Paco, who started his company to fill gaps in the nation’s electrical education and training systems. “Our community connections, along with our verification programs, help unlicensed practitioners become licensed electricians because our members bring a diverse range of expertise.”

The Master SWITCH program offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to work with Schneider Electric due to their huge community. The program’s members consist of consultants, educators, organization founders, and engineers specializing in energy systems, robotics, and the like. As an active member of the program, Jaime Paco has expanded his customer reach for his assessment center across the country. In addition, he offers Master SWTICH members exclusive discounts, making the electrical field more accessible to younger generations.

Access to resources and networks
Unlicensed electricians can gain access to various materials by joining and participating in the Master SWITCH program. As a leader in sustainable innovation, Schneider Electric offers quality products and installment plans to the electrician community through the program. Promoting workplace safety with the right tools and technology has helped prevent electrical hazards for members of the community. In addition, Schneider Electric’s offerings have also encouraged unlicensed practitioners to obtain a license by giving them access to products that make the installment process more efficient.

“There are many qualified non-licensed electrical practitioners in the Philippines who work under the supervision of licensed electricians rather than taking the licensing exam themselves. As licensed practitioners, it is important that we support them and empower them to obtain a license,” said Filomeno Ducay, one of the original Master SWITCH members and co-founder of the Organization of Registered Master Electricians of the Philippines – an organization dedicated to which 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 unlicensed electricians can discuss their best practices, concerns and views, coming from diverse backgrounds and highly specialized fields. The program has inspired unlicensed electricians to sit for the license exam through mentoring opportunities and genuine referrals from peers to further advance their careers professionally. The Philippine Electrical Code is regularly debated and this has prompted electricians to obtain the proper documents in compliance with engineering laws to practice their practice.

“I joined Master SWITCH when it first opened in 2019 on the recommendation of a colleague,” said Neil Arendain, the youngest of the three electricians in terms of experience in the field. He is an electrician by experience and strives to further his practice. “Master SWITCH has helped me connect with other unlicensed practitioners like me and learn from the more experienced licensed electricians. The Master SWITCH community has empowered me to pursue a career in this field and I plan to start my journey towards licensing.”

“Joining Master SWITCH is particularly beneficial for new electrical practitioners and there are many of them in the programme. When they’re given access to resources and networking opportunities, they’re usually giving back to the company,” Ducay said.

Empowering the next generation of Filipino electricians

Electricians like Arendain, Ducay and Paco have worked to make the electric field more accessible to younger generations – Arendain has taken a young electrician as an apprentice under his wing, Ducay has dedicated himself to fighting for the rights of Filipino electricians, and Paco is continuing his Mission continues to empower aspirants through appropriate education and training. Along 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.

With the support of Master SWITCH and Schneider Electric, together with their stakeholders, they have stimulated active community participation with project-based events. Schneider Electric’s Master SWITCH program has reached electricians across the country, while select members have sought accreditation to increase efforts to encourage more Filipinos to pursue this career path.