Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that Professional Regulation Commission acting chairperson Angeline T. Chua Chiaco and Secretary Patricia B. Licuanan, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education are scheduled to visit Qatar over the weekend to hold meetings with H.E. Mohd A. Alhamadi and the Qatar Supreme Education Council to make strong representations in support of the request of the 12,000-strong engineering and architecture professionals in Qatar for equivalency of their educational qualifications and relevant work experience to qualify as engineers or architects in Qatr.
“We are optimistic that the PRC-CHED mission will successfully meet its goal to convince Qatari authorities to give our Filipino engineers and architects the equivalency. Qatari employers, based on information that has reached me, are open and supportive of the Filipino professionals’ request,” Baldoz said.
The equivalency challenge arose due to the strict implementation by Qatar of its law requiring engineers to register with the Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA). Unfortunately, Filipino engineers are unable to do so because of the Supreme Education Council’s requirement of a 12-year basic education, or a total of 16 years of education for registering professionals in Qatar.
“The Supreme Education Council considers the 12-year basic education program as equivalent to a high school diploma. As such, Filipino engineers could not register with the UPDA because all of them underwent only 10 years of basic education, and the Qatari authorities have only issued a two-year diploma equivalency for engineering degrees earned in Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs),” said Baldoz.
Baldoz added that the government of Qatar has set 31 January as the deadline for registration with the UPDA.
“If an OFW engineer, or any foreign engineer for that matter, is unable to register with the UPDA, he/she cannot practice his profession in Qatar. In short, the 12,000 OFW engineers could possibly be displaced from their jobs,” said Baldoz.
However, she was quick to assure that OFW engineers, who are working in 20 to 30 percent of construction consultancy firms in Qatar, will not be easily displaced because Qatari authorities, as well as employers, have expressed openness to the full equivalency of the educational qualifications and relevant work experience of Filipino engineers so they may be able to practice their professions in Qatar.
She also said the demand for Filipino workers in Qatar continue to rise, noting that the POEA has recorded an increase of 19,362 in Qatar job orders from 85,510 in 2014 to 104,872 in 2015.
“Filipino professionals in Qatar, like in many parts of the world, are the employers’ preferred choice. This challenge is not difficult to hurdle because employers themselves are very aware of our workers’ capabilities and qualifications,” said Baldoz, saying she has not received any official report of Filipino engineers or architects being displaced on account of the requirement.
Baldoz said there are 172,000 OFWs in Qatar, 23,000 of whom are professionals; 86,000 are highly-skilled; 30,000 are semi- or low-skilled; and 30,000 household service workers.
“Filipino engineers and architects in Qatar receive monthly salaries between a low of P99,000 to a high of P300,000 per month,” she said.