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Home » ALTEC Events » Acing the Job with Project ACER

Acing the Job with Project ACER

Fresh out of college and a recent board passer, the newly-minted Engineer Abdullah Pakkam struggled to find a job despite his brand new credentials.

“Three months akong unemployed. Within these three months, I was job hunting. Even tried to find a job outside Zamboanga City,” says Abdullah.

Such is the struggle for many new jobseekers in the country. According to Ashnari “Shan” Mucaddam, Project Leader for Project ACER (Acing Career through Employability Readiness), it is a difficult time for a young Filipino to find a job in this status quo. “Most companies and industries prefer ‘yung mga may work experience and such, kaya bale na-o-overlook ‘yung mga skills and opportunity na pwedeng ibigay sa ating kabataan.” (“Most companies and industries prefer those with work experience and such, that’s why the skills and opportunities that could have been for the youth are overlooked.”)

Enter Project ACER, an initiative by CAYA (Community Association of Youth in Action) aimed at assisting young job seekers aged 18-24 in preparing for future employment. The project’s goal was to expose the participants to the whole hiring flow to better prepare them for the workforce.

Project ACER was hosted at Edwin Andrews Air Base on December 26-28, 2023. The program spanned three days full of skill training sessions and counseling for its participants. 

Participants were taught how to write their own resumés – which included what to highlight and what not to include to ensure better chances of success. There were also mock interview sessions where the participants were coached on how to approach actual job interviews.

Another highlight was the skill-matching segment of the program. Mucaddam explained that they wanted to focus on each participant’s strengths and weaknesses to avoid skill mismatches, hoping to pair the participants with the best possible career paths.

“We believe at Project ACER na kapag bigyan lang natin ang youth ng right material, ng right training, and right intervention, then they could also have the opportunity na mag-compete sa mga tao on the level na may work experience.”

(“We believe at Project ACER that if we just give the youth the right material, the right training, and the right intervention, then they could also have the opportunity to compete with those on the level with work experience.”)

This is the way Abdullah landed his first-ever job at a well-known construction firm based in Zamboanga City. “They helped me a lot. I would even say that my career had a good start because of Project ACER. They told me the do’s and don’ts when applying for a job.” He further elaborates that his mentors from the program went as far as telling him which parts to keep on his resumé and which ones to discard.

During Abdullah’s job interview, he recalls how nearly identical his experience was to the mock interviews he had with Project ACER. 

Abdullah learned about Project ACER while he was job hunting. To stay productive while waiting for callbacks and interviews, he decided to volunteer at his local Sangguniang Kabataan in Barangay Recodo in the meantime. It was then that the SK Chairman encouraged him to apply. Abdullah alongside his friends in Recodo grabbed the opportunity together in hopes of personal growth. 

As of writing, Abdullah is now employed at Benram Construction as a Project Engineer and is currently working on a 1 lot 4 story building in Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone (ECOZONE).