Only 1,332 of the more than 80,000 temporary foreign workers in the Carribean countries were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said as it sought the private sector’s cooperation and participation in sourcing out jobs for skilled OFWs in the Carribeans.

Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the emerging global labor market in the Carribean region is a window of employment opportunities for our OFWs. Citing a report from Labor Attache Arturo Sodusta of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Washington D.C. (POLO-WDC), Sto. Tomas said the Carribean nations — Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago (T & T), and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) — are in need of teachers, nurses, and pharmacists.

The labor and employment secretary said the participation of the private sector will be essential in expanding the OFWs market in the Carribeans including the employment of our workers in the construction and hospitality industries.

She cautioned the workers, however, to check first with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the nearest DOLE office any job in the Carribeans that may be offered them to determine the legitimacy of the job offer.

Sto. Tomas said that a delegation from Jamaica came to the Philippines in 2004 to interview 120 candidates for nurses. Trinidad & Tobago’s Ministry of Health is also planning to recruit 500 medical workers. “Their manpower requirements include teachers, nurses, pharmacists and construction workers,” she said.

Labatt Arturo Sodusta also reported to Sto. Tomas that a delegation from Trinidad & Tobago is scheduled to visit the country early this year to recruit nurses and initially deploy between 100-150 hirees.

Sto. Tomas noted that the demand for Filipino workers increased when many construction workers were hired in 2001 to work in Guantanamo Bay. Last year, service workers were hired mainly to work in the hotels in the Turks and Caicos Islands, she added.

“These tourist havens could be promising destinations for the skilled Filipino workers,” Sto. Tomas said noting that Filipino workers account for only 1.5% of the 87,000 foreign temporary workers in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands. So far, only 1,332 of the foreign workers there are Filipinos, she said.

Sto. Tomas said the POLO in Washington is actively developing these markets by strengthening linkages with these Caribbean countries. A visit to the country by key labor officials from the Turks & Caicos Islands is also being worked out while the Filipino recruiters are encouraged to actively market their manpower services there.

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