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  • Reina Manongsong

Unilab Foundation leads implementation of $10.6M USAID-funded workforce development program

U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson (third from right), Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual (second from right), Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr. (rightmost), and Group President and CEO of United Health Group, Chairman of the Board of UNILAB, Inc., and Vice Chairman and President of Unilab Foundation, Inc. Clinton Andrew Campos Hess (fourth from right), and lead government and private sector partners inaugurated the first Advanced Manufacturing Institute in the country. 13 March 2023.

Unilab Foundation, Inc. (ULF), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), formally launched the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance (AMDev) Program, and inaugurated the country’s first Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) on 13 March 2023 at the Unilab Pharma Campus in Biñan, Laguna. US Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. MaryKay Carlson, was the keynote speaker of the event.

"We hope that this private sector collaboration will allow the Philippines to advance to ‘high middle-income’ economic status and strengthen its ability to increase sustainable, inclusive, and transparent economic growth in the broader Indo-Pacific economic community,” said U.S. Ambassador Carlson.

The $10.6 million AMDev Program is set to develop a pipeline of highly skilled and adaptive workforce that meet the evolving requirements of advanced manufacturing through streamlining of standards for skills, qualifications descriptors, competency, and training for incoming and existing manufacturing workforce. This will be accomplished through the establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing Skills Council (AMSC) and multiple Advanced Manufacturing Institutes (AMI) across the nation.

U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, together with US government and USAID officials, Unilab, Inc. executives, and Unilab Foundation, Inc. trustees, inspect the “Hands Dirty” training facility under the Advanced Manufacturing Institute of Amherst Laboratories, Inc.

The AMSC will undertake continuous research, workforce forecasting, standards and policy toolkits development, and the creation of an enabling environment that will help companies manage standards, reduce skills gaps and shortages, improve productivity, and engage with industry stakeholders to create policies and reforms towards a favorable environment for advanced manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the AMIs will design curricula and roll out training programs and courses that are aligned with the global standards and demands of advanced manufacturing, and serve as a collaboration and learning hub for manufacturers throughout the country.

We are deeply honored to be at the helm of this private sector alliance. Together with our 13 alliance partners representing the industry, academe, and research organizations along with our government partners, the Unilab Foundation envisions to make an impact on the manufacturing sector by introducing industry-led programs that will sharpen manufacturing competencies and set higher standards of training,” said Mr. Clinton Andrew C. Hess, President and CEO of the United Health Group, Chairman of the Board of Unilab, Inc., and Vice Chairman and President of Unilab Foundation, Inc.

With ULF at the helm, the AMDev Alliance is currently comprised of four model manufacturing companies and nine higher education institutions, research institutions, and specialized non-profit organizations.

The four model companies, Amherst Laboratories, Inc. and Belmont Softgel Pharma Corporation from the pharmaceutical industry, and Western Digital and Fastech Synergy Philippines, Inc. from the electronics industry, will each operationalize an AMI in their respective facilities and serve as the founding members of the AMSC.

They will be at the forefront of the pilot implementation of the curriculum and training activities developed by the AMIs for the existing and incoming workforce, and for human resource professionals across the country.

U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson (center) with the inaugural batch of mixed training participants from the four AMDev model companies – the Amherst Laboratories, Inc., and Belmont Softgel Pharma Corporation from the pharmaceutical industry; and the Western Digital and the Fastech Synergy Philippines, Inc. from the electronics industry.

To ensure that the outcomes of AMDev Program will lead to the development of relevant policies and laws that will benefit the manufacturing industry, ULF is also strengthening partnerships with key government agencies. These include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Finance (DOF).

We pin our hope that the AMDev Program, fully supported and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will be creating a ripple that would later improve, if not completely revolutionize, the existing dynamics for private-public collaborations in the Philippines,” said DOST Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr.

DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual emphasized, “Initiatives such as AMDev are vital to the DTI’s work of tapping and leveraging the immense potential of the Philippines as a manufacturing hub. Through AMDev, the Filipino workforce will have the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge that will further strengthen the competencies of the country’s manufacturing sector.”

Both Secretaries underscored that AMDev initiatives are aligned with the national government’s priority socio-economic development agenda, particularly, creating job security and pushing technological innovation.


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