Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said the Philippines has taken a solid step to ensure its capacity to supply competent marine officers to the global seafaring industry that is growing at a clip of 10 percent and would need some 35,000 officers in the next five to 10 years.

Sto. Tomas, in an interview with the global ANC 21 Channel, said that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the setting up of a DOLE-led program in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to strengthen the country’s capacity to supply the needed officers.

The Labor and Employment Chief indicated that the program will enable the graduates of courses such as mechanical or electrical engineering to “shift and become a marine officer.”

As such, it also encourages the right academic preparation to the country’s seafarers, encouraging ratings not merely to remain as they are, but to opt for a career progression to the officer level.

“And so,”Sto. Tomas told seafarers and would-be seafarers, “if you’re looking at a career [on the global maritime scene] you better [aspire for] a four-year [education/training] degree.”

Sto. Tomas enunciated that aspiring to be a marine officer is “like your usual engineering course requiring a bit of mathematics [towards] a kind of job where you can build a good career possibility.”

“A ship Captain in say a gas tanker will be paid about US$18,000 a month these days, you start at say a thousand dollars, and in 10 to 15 years you’d be in that higher earning capacity.”

Sto. Tomas also said that the reality in the international land-based labor market is that overseas nurses still, and continue to, “rate as the highest in demand,” alongside with the fairly constant demand for the overseas Filipino seafarers, including marine engineers and other competencies, in global shipping.

Alongside with these, she said that there are also opportunities for the landlubbers with the appropriate tech-voc skills in automotive mechanics, electricity, electrical technology, and hotel and restaurant management and services.

She said that waitering is right now in great demand overseas. “The Caribbean for instance are opening up to our workers in the hotel and restaurant management area now,” Sto. Tomas said.

Amid these developments, she strongly cautioned all would-be overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to always adhere to the proper, step-by-step processes set firmly in place by the government to protect applicants for overseas employment and ensure that they successfully avoid being victimized and help neutralize illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

The Labor Secretary advised would be OFWs that if they want to look for an overseas job, one possible first step is to go to the Phil-Jobnet system (accessible at www.dole.gov.ph) and its virtual jobs fair on the Internet. “If you get a job through Phil-Jobnet, [the second step is] you are going to get into a legitimate [licensed recruitment] agency — whom we can hold responsible.”

Sto. Tomas advised workers, would-be OFWs, and OFWs not to hesitate to get in touch with the DOLE concerning illegal recruitment and improper work site conditions through the Department’s hotline numbers at (632) 527-8000, where six DOLE call center personnel are on hand daily to guide or refer them as appropriate.

source: Information and Publication Service

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