The total global employment contracts processed for overseas Filipino seafarers has surpassed the 300,000 mark showing a robust preference and demand for their skills in global shipping, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.

Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said that some 302,328 contracts for the overseas Filipino seafarers were processed globally in 2005, or 10,812 higher than the total 291,516 contracts processed in 2004.

She said that the 302,328 contracts processed comprised some one-third, or 30.80 percent, of the 981,337 overseas employment contracts processed for both land- and sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 2005.

She also said that the global preference of the world’s shipping industry on Filipino seafarers who comprise some 25 percent of the world’s seafarers supply is anchored solidly on the Philippines’ continuous efforts to ensure compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping Convention (STCWC).

Meanwhile, Sto. Tomas said that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the setting up of a DOLE-led program to strengthen the country’s capacity to supply officers to the global maritime industry in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education and the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

The global seafaring industry will need some 35,000 officers in the next five to 10 years, and the program to strengthen the country’s capacity to meet demand will enable the graduates of mechanical or electrical engineering to shift and become marine officers, she said.

In general, the thrust will emphasize the right academic preparation and also encourage seafarers not to remain as they are but opt for upgrading to officer rank, Sto. Tomas said.

Source: Information and Publication Service

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