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More than 300 high school students in Bataan were recently awarded a globally recognized credential that measures essential and foundational workplace skills.

Considered as the first batch of awardees in the Asia Pacific region, the 322 third year or junior high school students were feted in a ceremony held on November 11, 2014 in Balanga town, led by the province’s governor, Albert Garcia. The International Career Readiness Certificates (ICRC), which is administered and awarded by the American-based company ACT and its local partner, SFI Group of Companies, were awarded following a provincial-wide K-12 KeyTrain Curriculum Efficacy study conducted over a period of three months during the first quarter of 2014 among select 520 junior high school students from 22 public high schools and 4 private schools in Bataan.

The 322 students who received the ICRC were those who achieved the minimum qualifying scores for the ICRC based on three basic career readiness assessment tools—Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. Aside from Governor Garcia, the students were awarded also by keynote speaker, DOLE Undersecretary Reydeluz Conferido, ACT’s CEO, Dr. Jon Whitmore and SFI Group President, Mr. Luis A. Anastacio.

During his inspirational message, Dr. Whitmore quoted, “…this is the first time of its kind that ACT has launched in the ASEAN community. We believe success with this Bataan project will help in the ASEAN integration and its rise in the future. And as I speak, we are in discussion to replicate this project in Malaysia. But finally, the most important thing, I’m honored to be here to celebrate this early success of this 322 achieving students. Students’ success in education and workplace achievement is what ACT is all about.”

The SFI Group of Companies, one of the leading providers of workforce management solutions in the Philippines, and ACT, provided support to the province through a grant that facilitated the research, training, and awarding of ICRC to the qualified students. The research study and the ICRC aim to support the Department of Education’s K-12 curriculum by preparing high school students for the workplace and industry after graduation through skills enhancement and career readiness.

Considered as a milestone in the province, proponents of the study believe that the ICRC can serve as a catalyst in the Philippine’s workforce development.