Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said that as one of the DOLE’s priorities for 2014, she had ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) to work together in pursuing higher skills certification for household service workers (HSWs) to expand their horizon and widen their options for more productive and decent employment opportunities.

“In the light of recent significant events, such as the entry into force of the ILO Convention on Domestic Work, or C189; the passage and implementation of the Kasambahay Law, or R.A. 10361; our landmark agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on HSWs; and many other labor market-changing developments, I sincerely believe it is high time that we up the ante and enhance and upgrade the skills of our HSWs, so they will rise above the level of their market niche. This way, they will be better protected and their welfare better ensured,” explained Baldoz.

Secretary Baldoz said that the move will empower HSWs, allow them to explore other career opportunities, and raise their incomes.

“It’s for their career advancement,” she said, adding that HSWs who obtain higher skills qualifications may find employment as careers for the old and the sick, baby sitters, tutors, and drivers. She said HSWs can also train and transit to become tourism workers, such as ‘meet-and-greet’ staff, hotel staff, masseurs and masseuse, room attendants, and kitchen and restaurant crew.

Baldoz noted that at present, under the 2007 Household Service Worker Reform policies, HSWs who work abroad are required to possess only a National Certificate for Household Service Workers (NCII) issued by the TESDA and to attend a country-specific language and culture orientation conducted by the OWWA.

“These package of reform, policies, which cover not only household service workers, but also low-skilled and semi-skilled female workers, are aimed at ensuring their protection, possession of the necessary skills qualifications, and their proper documentation,” said Baldoz.

She said that one of the strategies the DOLE will pursue this year is how HSWs can obtain or earn higher skills qualifications that are competency-based and be issued the appropriate national certificates by the TESDA.

“Our idea is for our HSWs, including kasambahay, to possess higher skills outside purely domestic work and for them to be certificated in the particular skill they have earned or gained so that they may be able to pursue other jobs that pay more than being a HSW,” she explained.

She bared that the POEA and the TESDA had already conducted meetings with stakeholders on the certification for land-based OFWs, including HSWs, in late November 2013 where licensed agency owners have agreed that lectures on career advancement for HSWs be included in briefings as well as in the pre-departure orientation seminars.

“The TESDA should already fast-track the development of customized training regulation, modules, assessment, and certification program for HSWs as it has committed during the meeting,” said Baldoz.

Meanwhile, she said the NWPC is now conducting a study/review in the wage structure for kasambahay as required under the Kasambahay Law, or R.A. 10361, for the purpose of matching up wage rates based on competencies or skills.

“The salaries of HSWs should be subject to assessment, and those who have higher skills should definitely receive pay higher than the US$400 salary rate of regular HSW,” Baldoz said.

“The TESDA should also study modes of financing the further training of kasambahay and HSW for overseas deployment. It should consider for this purpose the Training for Work Scholarship Program to assist HSWs and Kasambahay who are willing to undergo training,” Baldoz elaborated.

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