Learning a skill or getting knowledge is not really that far-fetched of an idea however far behind you think you are!
Get a piece of the pie in the job market
Now, let me go back to a post I have here. I said that if we wanted to get a piece of the pie in the job market, we would have to get some “education” somewhere or learn a skill. Never has that component ever been more urgent. In the Philippines, the skills and knowledge divide is actually quite big. Many, especially the city dwellers and those who have jobs are now getting more adept at evolving with the fast changing technological landscape. And all these technological innovations have always managed to influence how businesses are done or run and even how people live.
If I were to cite an example, the usual class routines before used to revolve mostly around “books,” but teachers now often supplement book reading with video clips, films and other technological media. Whereas before most people relied only on the radio, the TV news programs and newspapers (and usually had to wait for them as the broadcasts had fixed schedules and newspapers were not always printed daily) to keep themselves abreast with what’s going on in the world; now, news can be had anytime from the internet.
Step up your game
Also with the proliferation of international call centers and the ease of access to English movies, the kind of English that many Filipinos speak now have actually improved. And many young children as young as three years old now already know how to fiddle with mobile phones or know how the world somehow works. You’ll be amazed at the amount of knowledge today’s young children are able to grasp. It sometimes shames me when I get corrected by my niece for instance. The world is just so different now. I am always left gushing at how fast our children are growing up now, how knowledgeable they already are.
However, while many are catching up, the skills and knowledge divide is still alarmingly wide. While many are able to navigate the landscape with ease, many others are left cowering in fear and shame. And they let on thinking that that’s just how things are – they belong to a different era or their life situation is so unfavorable there’s just no way they will be able to catch up. They give up trying and in the process become one of those street people or one of those bums or those settling for less than what they can possibly have.
Set your sights on better things
This is not to oversimplify things, but again there will always be something that we can do to improve our lot in life. If you don’t have a job because you don’t have what you think are the needed skills and knowledge, read on.
But before anything else, what do you think are the minimum skills needed to get a minimum wage job these days? Let’s list them down.
- Communication skills
- Reading skills including reading and understanding forms (application forms)
- Basic computation skills
- Customer service skills
- Basic computer skills
- Industry-specific skills (baking skills for bakeshops, cooking skills for restaurants, bar tending or housekeeping skills for hotels, etc.)
Let’s start with communication skills. You say, but I cannot express myself well or I lose my tongue during interviews. This can be remedied. Communication skills almost always have something to do with self-confidence. The first step then is to build up your confidence. Now, you are starting to do something about your life – that is something to feel confident about. Then, maybe now you can start going back to your elementary or high school books and lessons. Master the very basic sentence constructions and the subject-verb agreement rules. Believe me, these will take you far enough. If you think these are difficult, don’t be shy to ask help or approach somebody who you think knows these things, like a teacher-neighbor perhaps.
Better yet, check your local TESDA office for their Basic English Language Skills Training or any of those centers that offer call center training for free. Some centers have qualifying exams but if you show enough confidence or speaking ability and drive, even if you fail the written exam, you will most likely be given a chance and so that slot in their program.
When I first started out, my English was also deemed rather poor. The first few call centers I applied in also rejected me. But I didn’t stop and I kept on reading and learning from my failed interviews and exams until I got better. I also took the free call center training from a center that had a tie-up with TESDA. The hurdle is getting in. Once in, you’ll be trained which will give you the needed skill and knowledge. So start somewhere, start from the basics, then keep learning and improving yourself – how you talk and answer questions, how you carry yourself, etc. Then of course, this cannot be stressed enough, listen to English songs, watch English movies and TV shows, read English texts, and speak in English.
Now the matter with application forms. I’ve personally seen some who didn’t know how to fill out application forms. Go over the basic elements of an application form. You can buy some over some bookstore and check what things there you don’t really understand and so that by the time you are asked to fill out a form, you’ll be able to do it with ease.
Basic Computation Skills
Most jobs need these especially those in shops. So take some time to check whether you still remember how to add, deduct, multiply and divide numbers. You may also practice computing for and with percentages.
Customer Service Skills
Knowing how to serve customers well is a must. Usually, interviewers can tell if you can do this by your face and your voice. Yes, whether you smile a lot or you talk with a pleasant voice. If you look glum or don’t sound interested, you probably won’t be able to get a job as a sales crew, as a sales clerk or as a hotel staff.
Basic Computer Skills
This may cost you some, but you can start checking the computer store and familiarize yourself with how the computers look like or are set up. If you really don’t know anything about computers, you might want to start with the keyboard. Check what’s written on the keys. Then maybe you can move on to the monitor and the CPU (box), read what’s written there. If you are able to see where the power button is, congratulate yourself for that is a good start. Afterwards, perhaps you can start staying in internet cafes and ask some people. Some may ignore you but don’t give up easily. You are bound to meet people who will be willing to give you a tutorial. There was a time I didn’t even know where to look for MS Word, but I was never embarrassed to ask around. (True story! I come from the Lotus 123 and Wordstar era, you see.)
Now you might think that you don’t know a thing about baking, carpentry or bar tending so how on earth can you work in a bakery, in a construction company or in a hotel? Think again. You will learn the skill, and most definitely, you will learn to love the skill. But the best part is you will also have a greater chance of getting employed here and even abroad.
Just as my sisters have, I always suggest the TESDA courses to anyone who thinks finding a job is difficult. I believe in the courses and the confidence and hope they can give the trainees.
If you’re reading this, obviously this is not for you (sorry), but you may know any Pinoy who doesn’t have a job now. Maybe you can teach that person a skill or two or let him or her know about the TESDA courses.