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The Thrill of Tech-Voc: “There’s so much to it”

While attending to her relative’s automotive shop in Nueva Vizcaya, Maera Cosep, who was then 16 years old, started being fascinated with electronics. “Binabantayan ko po ‘yung shop tapos pag may bumibili, nalalaman ko kung ano tawag sa ganitong part tapos para saan at kung paano siya ginagamit,” she says as she recalls the early days of how she decided to pursue a tech-voc course focused on electronics.

Her appreciation for tech-voc courses grew as she entered the First Industrial Science and Technology School, an industrial high school in Batangas in June 2019. Having studied a subject on programming, she developed an inclination to coding and realized the creativity of technical fields that people may find intimidating (“Puro math!”). Programming is understanding a language and it is also creating something out of those symbols, words, and phrases.

Because of her familiarity with electronics having spent a lot of time in an automotive shop, she decided to pursue the Electronic Product Assembly Services (EPAS) program for Grade 12. Electronics and programming may appear two entirely different paths. But, to Maera, they are actually two ambitions she can pursue in the same lifetime. Not only are they applicable to day-to-day life, but there is also actually room for talent and resourcefulness in these fields. This is the beauty of tech-voc that Maera says are not immediately visible to people.

“Sinasabi ng iba na ‘mababang trabaho’ lang ‘yan at ‘walang patutunguhan yan.’ For me, these are not true and what they know about tech-voc are incomplete. There is so much to it,”  she says about the ingenuity she’s developing despite the prejudice around tech-voc courses being boring and mundane. In electronics, they are taught about the science of wiring and power supply, they draw circuits, learn unit assembly — all these to be able to produce things like calculators and even fix everyday devices like washing machines. Tech-voc courses look into honing practical skills.

“Segment displays” were among Maera’s favorite tasks where they played with lighting. “Inaral namin ‘yung timing ng pag-ilaw. Isang segment muna iilaw tapos after a specific time, ‘yung kabila naman —  parang yung nakikita sa traffic lights,” she said. Electronics, she expressed, involved drawing illustrations and mapping calculations and circuits, and putting those computations and visuals to life.

Their class also experienced a work immersion where they were sent to the manufacturing site of Panasonic and got hands-on experience in inspecting raw materials before they were sent to assembly.

“Natuto kami sa pakikisama kasi na-expose din kami kung paano makipagtrabaho sa team leader, sa ibang employee, at kahit ‘yung mga safety practices nila. Minsan nakakatakot kasi electrical din ‘yung ginagawa mo, pero dahil tinuturan kami at sinusunod namin ‘yung mga safety practices, ligtas lahat. Kailangan din na obedient ka to quality standards.”

Asked if she’s experienced any gender discrimination as a young girl, she says she’s glad that she hasn’t had such negative experience first-hand but acknowledges that pursuing her chosen career may not be all rainbows and butterflies. She may still encounter judgments along the way and so keeping a supportive social circle is vital for her to be able to hurdle such dissenting possibilities.  “Very supportive sila,”  she says of her close circle.

What about any inspiration for staying determined in tech-voc? “Just myself,” she answers confidently, saying that self-determination is also crucial in any field you enter. You can’t build your confidence if you don’t take a chance to explore your tech-voc interests, she adds. Even following content online helps as she also goes to YouTube to watch videos to see how other people do them, too. “Wag matakot mag-try ng iba-ibang bagay at mag-explore ng iyong mga interests. Pursue it habang bata ka pa, habang malakas ka pa, at habang may time ka pa. Kasi dun mo talaga makikita kung ano ang magugustuhan mo at saan ka magiging masaya.”

After Grade 12, Maera plans to pursue employment in Panasonic. When she turns 20, she will study programming in college and aims to develop an app in the future.

Who says tech-voc isn’t a place for visionary young girls? Maera’s story is just one of many that shows that focusing on improving yourself right now is an essential element to any career you may choose to take in the future. With focus and vigor, there are diverse possibilities for a far-reaching career even in tech-voc.

 

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