The Philippines hopes to send more workers to South Korea’s manufacturing sector this year, as its quota under the Employment Permit System (EPS) has increased anew, from 4,600 in 2015 to 6,800 this year.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz bared this yesterday after she received a letter from Choi Junha, Director of the Foreign Workforce Division of South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor, stating that South Korea has set the ceiling for the Philippines under the EPS at 6,800 and the number of jobseekers permitted to be on the roster at 8,100.
“This is a piece of good news. In 2015, the labor quota given by MOEL for Philippines was 4,600, or a rate of 13.98 percent of the total number of foreign workers permitted to enter South Korea. Due to our keen interest and continued cooperation in the implementation of EPS, the South Korean government increased it to 48 percent and that shows its mounting confidence not just in the quality of OFWs’ work but also with our country’s strengthened efforts in terms of labor policies,” said Baldoz.
“The continuing climb of the country’s quota reflects our consistently good EPS performance for the past four years, leading to creation of more employment opportunities for Filipinos in South Korea’s manufacturing sector,” she added.
In his letter, Director Junha said that for 2016, the South Korean government’s overall foreign workers quota for the five permitted industry sectors, including manufacturing, is set at 58,000.
From the said figure, 46,000 are allocated to newcomers, while reserving 12,000 for re-entering workers. The overall quota was divided among the 15 sending countries based on a number of criteria, which include the rate of illegal workers, employer’s preference, time required for sending workers to Korea or “introduction period”, rate of workers’ employment change, actual number of workers received in comparison to last year’s ceiling, and the country’s level of cooperation in implementing EPS policies.
In order to sustain a consistent and sustainable implementation of the EPS program, Secretary Baldoz had ordered the POEA to fast track the timely renewal of the MOU which expires on 8 April this year and to set in motion several measures to reduce the number of overstaying Filipino EPS workers in that country.
Among these measures are the conduct of a Preliminary Language and Culture Training for EPS workers which will be handled by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); strengthening of the POEA’s information campaign during the EPS-Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), PEOS, and PDOS on expenses to be incurred once the labor contract is sent to Korea; and exploring the possibility of filing visa applications of EPS workers electronically to facilitate efficient and faster issuance of working visas.
The POLO South Korea, on the other hand, has also been exerting efforts in campaigning for EPS workers’ return to the Philippines through the conduct of post-orientation briefings, labor education sessions, and reintegration preparedness seminars for EPS workers, thereby preventing them from overstaying.
Baldoz, who pioneered the PH-Korea EPS when she was POEA administrator, said she had informed South Korea’s new envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Kim Jae Shin, of her directive when the two officials met last 4 February. She also expressed her gratitude, on behalf of the Philippines, to South Korea for its continued trust to the country, especially in providing a bounty of job opportunities for Filipinos.
“We are pleased that for the fifth time, our EPS agreement with South Korea will again be renewed, along with increased opportunities for employment of Filipinos in Korean’s manufacturing sector,” Baldoz said.
Labor Attaché to South Korea, Felicitas Bay, has reported to Secretary Baldoz that the South Korea MOEL will implement, starting this year, monitoring protocols based on overall outcomes of their set criterion, which includes each of sending countries’ competency and transparency level in the selection and sending process, capacity to conduct return support programs, establishment and application of measures to discourage workers from overstaying thus, encourage their voluntary return.
A midterm review on the progress reports, Bay added, of all Korean EPS centers and studies will likewise be conducted by the MOEL on account of actual condition of foreign employment and sojourn management in South Korea in the first half of 2016.
“MOEL believes that by sharing the performance reviews, sending countries could further enhance and reinforce their respective labor policies,” Bay said in her report.
Meanwhile, Director Junha expressed hopes that through the EPS, the cooperative relations between the Philippines and South Korea will be further strengthened. The EPS has been a global model for ethical, efficient and transparent recruitment that has benefitted South Korea’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and its partner-countries and their workers.
For the Philippines, Filipino workers have gained a lot of skills and competencies that improved their lives and secured their future.