“We recast all our courses [and] called them “courses with specific specialty” para yung bata alam niya kung anong alam niya; yung mag-eempleyo alam niya yung aasahan niya sa mga batang ineemplyeo niya (so that the students know exactly what they know; the employers know what to expect from the students they are employing) and we began to develop partnerships with most of you guys who are here today. We called it the Dualized University Education System (DUES) at the time when ladderization was a ‘sacrilege’ in tertiary education.”

This was how University of Makati (UMak) President Tomas B. Lopez, Jr. recounted UMak’s institutional partnership beginnings with different companies to produce quality and employable graduates at the annual Industry Partners Recognition Day (IPRD), held at the UMak Mini Theater on November 14, 2016 with the theme “UMak Partnerships: Of Hope and Higher Horizons”.

The president described the city as a “contradiction of sorts”, a home to some of the richest, most powerful economic enterprises in the country and also a home to some of the poorest in the country. “If there’s any single thing we did good and right when I came in, is to define our vision and we came out of that meeting simply stating, convincing ourselves, believing that there was only one reason why the University of Makati was created.”  

Recalling the first planning session of the university 16 years ago when he was first designated as president, Prof. Lopez stressed that identifying UMak’s unique role for the city early on was key to the success of the different partnerships today.  What started out as a hope for the city and university officials in that first planning session back then, has now turned into higher horizons for thousands of UMak graduates and other constituents today.

With the support of the City Government of Makati, the strategy to produce graduates who are ready and in demand to join the workforce was set into motion after several established and reputable companies were invited to collaborate with UMak on curriculum development and teach the competencies required by the industry.  According to Prof. Lopez, this gave birth to DUES and “courses with specific specialty,” such as BSBA Major in Building and Property Management in partnership with the Building Owners and Management Association of the Philippines and BSBA Major in Retail Management which is tied-up with the Philippine Retailing Association, among many others.

Sa atin sa Makati ang importante ay hindi lang diploma, you [may] have that piece of paper but [it] does not give you a job at the end.  Ang importante po sa atin ay meron po tayong kasiguraduhan na meron trabahong nagaantay sa atin, pagkatapos nating mag-aral (What is important for us is that we are guaranteed of a job waiting for us after we finish studying).”  Makati Mayor Mar-len Abigail S. Binay-Campos thanked the industry partners for helping the graduates of UMak to become more than qualified for employment.

Among the new and continuing partners who signed a Memorandum of Agreement with UMak are Liga ng mga Barangay sa Makati which will partner with the Design Center for Nation Building on the implementation of the National Service Training Program and Community Engagement Solidarity and Citizenship of Higher School ng UMak (HSU); Harte Hanks for the internship and employment opportunities of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration and College of Computer Science students through the OJT and Placement Services Center, complementing their curricula to match the industry demand; Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) which will accommodate UMak college interns and will train HSU students to provide them with learning and professional experience as part of the OsMak healthcare team, preparing them for a hospital career; and Smart Communications, Inc. which will share its technical expertise in the field of wireless technology with the College of Technology Management through the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program.

Sitel Philippines Learning and Development Regional Director Ofelia Orcales expressed her desire to give back the generosity of the city through teaching Service Culture and Business Communication to UMak students. Orcales was also a part of the Curriculum on Higher Education and IT Business Process Association of the Philippines volunteer teaching project called “Service Management Program”.  In 2012, her UMak class recorded the first 100% successfully hired student-trainees.

“For those of you who are here, partners of UMak, you don’t have to be a graduate of UMak, to have that fire to help students [which] I feel even [up to] now, you only need to look at the benefit of this partnership that your company will reap. It is an investment in your future workforce.” Orcales recalled how companies develop students from a trainee quietly observing and absorbing how things are done to doing work just as or even better than the longtime employees.  She ended her talk with a challenge to the industry partners:  “I encourage you all to continue – for us to continue to work closely with our counterparts with UMak and find ways to provide a positive experience for the students of the university so they can bring with them all the positive learning and so they could be molded into the dedicated, loyal and successful future workers in our respective organizations.  I am sure you all want to see that happen, right?”

After 16 years, the institution has forged a partnership with around 700 companies and institutions. “We were able to do it because of you. We dared to change the rules. We realized and accepted the fact that education cannot be the sole job of the formal education system that education must be participated in, must be integrated, with all the context that a person goes through. At the University of Makati, what you learn at work must count, what you learn at work is really the most useful, the most powerful competency that you can have.” Prof. Lopez assured the partners of the university’s commitment to ensure that the competencies required by the employee sector are met in school by UMak students.

The event also recognized the continuing partnership of more than 100 different companies and organizations.  Also present in the event were Makati Vice Mayor Monique Yazmin Maria Q. Ladameo, Coun. Shirley Aspillaga, Coun. Divina Jacome, Coun. Grazielle Iony De Lara-Bes, UMak Executive Vice President Raymundo P. Arcega, Vice President for Academic Affairs Elyxzur C. Ramos, Vice President for Administration and Finance Aurora F. Serrano, and University Secretary Jewel D. Bulos.  The IPRD is spearheaded by the Office of the President and the Office of the University Secretary.