Baldoz, Swiss ambassador sign guidelines on PH-Swiss Trainee Exchange Agreement

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Ivo Sieber yesterday signed the Guidelines on the Documentation and the Deployment of Filipino Trainees (Young Professionals/Stagiares) from the Philippines and the Guidelines Informing on the Documentation and Procedures of Trainees (Young Professionals/Stagiares) from Switzerland under the Philippine-Swiss Agreement on the Exchange of Professional and Technical Trainees, thus, greatly enhancing migration and human resource development cooperation between the two countries.

In a simple ceremony at the DOLE in Intramuros, Manila, the two officials signed the Guidelines in the presence of the Swiss delegation composed of Hans-Peter Fitze, First Secretary and Consul, Head of Chancery, Hans-Peter Bieni, Atache, Head of Visa Section, and Dian Pearl Chan, Senior Embassy Projects Officer and Assistant to the Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland.

Witnessing the signing on the part of the Philippines were Ambassador Leslie Baja of the Philippine Embassy in Berne; DOLE Undersecretaries Rebecca Chato, Ciriaco Lagunzad III, Reydeluz Conferido; Professional Regulation Commission Chairperson Angeline Chua Chiaco; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Deputy Director General Irene M. Isaac.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac; Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Rebecca Calzado; POEA Deputy Administrator Liberty Casco; POEA Directors Nini Lanto and Jocelyn Rey; DFA Office of European Affairs Director Lenna De Dios-Sison; DOLE National Capital Region Regional Director Alex Avila; Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique R. Tutay, and International Labor Affairs Bureau Saul De Vries.

Under the guidelines on the documentation and deployment of Filipino trainees to Switzerland, Filipinos desiring to train and work in Switzerland–who are 18 to 35 years of age, have completed secondary or tertiary education–must first find an employer.

The employment arrangement will involve a signed prescribed standard employment contract, which should include the following provisions: (a) type of employment; (b) 18-month employment duration; (c) salary, trial period, and period of notice; (d) working hours and holiday entitlement; (e) health and accident insurance; and (f) information who is to shoulder the trainee’s travel expenses.

The employment contract is subject to the review and approval of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Once approved, the POEA will issue the exit clearance for the trainee’s departure. The Swiss Embassy in Manila will issue the visa to trainees after their documents have been approved and endorsed by the Federal Office for Migration (FOM).

The FOM, in this regard, is tasked to notify the POEA of its approved visa applications and will provide the Administration copy of the FOM-stamped employment contract between the employer and the worker trainee.

Swiss trainees, on the other hand, will be issued with a temporary visitor’s visa to be issued by the Philippine Consular Office in Switzerland.

According to the Guidelines on the documentation and deployment of Swiss trainees to Philippines, the FOM shall provide the trainee with an endorsement letter to be submitted at the DOLE-National Capital Region, which will then file and process the trainee’s Alien Employment Permit (AEP).

“Only the DOLE-NCR will process the AEP application of the Swiss trainee even if his/her work is not in the national capital,” according to Baldoz.

Pursuant to Article V of the Agreement, the Swiss trainee shall be exempted from the publication requirement and the payment of publication fee upon submission of necessary requirements, including an endorsement letter from FOM addressed to DOLE-NCR, certifying that the Swiss trainee is deployed under the agreement.

The Swiss trainee, while in the Philippines, if he or she will practice of regulated profession, must have a special temporary permit issued by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

“The signing of these two guidelines will certainly boost the chances of our workers of gainfully learning and experiencing the Swiss culture, as well as their work discipline, in the case of Filipino trainees. In the case of Swiss trainees, we look forward to hosting them here in the Philippines and enrich their technical expertise, aside from enabling them to learn about our rich culture as a people and as a nation,” said Baldoz.

“We take pride with the recognition that the Philippines is a gateway to robust economic and investment opportunities in Southeast Asia, with the possibility of Swiss trainees beginning and enriching their own global careers in our country,” she added.

Baldoz said there are over 60 Swiss companies in the Philippines, with the DOLE engaging them in tripartite and social dialogue endeavors.

Over the past decade, Switzerland has signed bilateral traineeship agreements with 30 countries, with the Philippines among them and the only one in Southeast Asia.

These agreements give young professionals between the ages 18 to 35 the opportunity to work in their occupation for up to 18 months and receive remuneration under Swiss laws.

In 2002, the Philippine-Swiss Trainee Agreement on the Exchange of Professional and Technical Trainees was signed between then Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and Swiss Federal Council Minister Ruth Metzler. It entered into force on 10 June 2003.

In its 2013 Migration Report, the FOM reported that a total of 118 permits were issued to foreign nationals for traineeship in Switzerland. Accordingly, the Philippines accounted for 25 percent of the total foreign young trainees under the program and ranked second to Canada in terms of deployment. Many of the Filipino trainees have found employment as nurses and professionals in pharmaceutical and financial firms in Switzerland.

The labor and employment chief encouraged young Filipino professionals who qualify as trainees to Switzerland to excel and maximize the opportunity to acquire global professional and technical skills and boost their prospects for long term employability.

For those interested to become Filipino trainees to Switzerland, she also emphasized the importance of acquiring sufficient language proficiency in German or French to increase their chances of qualifying for opportunities afforded under this program.

The labor and employment chief lauded the leading role of Switzerland in advancing the global agenda on migration and development, particularly in the post-2015 development agenda.

“With the full operationalization of the Agreement, another pathway for continued Filipino-Swiss partnership on migration and human resource development is strengthened. Switzerland can always count on the Philippines support on its advocacy towards making international migration safer and beneficial to development,” she said.

END/hjtg

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