There are jobs and career opportunities in the local job market even for returning OFWs. There are also livelihood opportunities available for those who are inclined to become entrepreneurs.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz made this assurance yesterday to allay apprehensions that OFWs who return to the country, particularly those who will decide to stay for good, may find it difficult to find jobs locally, if and when they decide to look for one.
These apprehensions arose over reports on the Saudi Arabia-Iran conflict, which create worries for the safety and welfare of OFWs in the Middle East. The tension over the conflict, though, has since dissipated and the political and security situation in the region continues to be calm.
“Career opportunities are aplenty in the Philippines,” assured Baldoz. “And if a returning OFW opts to engage in business, that is welcome because that is more potentially rewarding. The government, through the DOLE, can help through our livelihood programs,” she said.
As to employment opportunities, Baldoz said that as of date there are over 230,000 vacancies culled from employers’ postings in the PhilJobNet and government, including 30,000 vacant teacher-positions from the DepEd and 15,000 nursing vacancies in public hospitals as reported by the Department of Health. Of the total number, 90,000 are overseas vacancies in alternative markets derived from valid job orders in the POEA.
She hastened to add, though, that these numbers may still increase as the DOLE is still awaiting job vacancies data from its partners both in the private and public sectors, such as the DPWH, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc., Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Legitimate Service Contractors, Inc.; EEI Realty Corporation, and Philippine Association of Private Recruitment and Placement Agencies. The DOLE, Baldoz said, is also set to ink a partnership with the Coca Cola FEMSA on the joint development of employment and entrepreneurship programs for OFWs.
Baldoz further said the DOLE is at the concluding stages of the development of its Human Resource Development Roadmap, a joint initiative with the International Labor Organization. The HRD Roadmapping initiative involves consultation with twenty-one (21) sectors across the three (3) major industry groups—agriculture, services, and industry—to determine labor supply and demand information and identify strategies for HRD competitiveness.
“Because of the development involving Saudi Arabia and Iran, I have directed all our POLOs in the Gulf to prepare a very comprehensive profile of our workers and their occupations there, while here at home I have instructed all DOLE agencies involved in employment facilitation to also map out all available local jobs in preparation just in case there will be some reason for them to come, such as getting caught in the middle of the conflict,” Baldoz explained.
She said a review by the POEA of the profile of deployed OFWs reveals that about 32 percent of them are household service workers and other household-related workers, such as cleaners, who are considered vulnerable, but who can be absorbed in the local job market.
The other skills are nurses, engineers, technicians, laborers, cleaners, electricians, drivers, mechanics, welders, waiters/waitresses, construction workers, service crew, carpenters, sales workers, supervisors, plumbers, painters, and machine operators.
“Including nurses and engineers, it is true that holders of these skills may receive less in salaries when they work in the Philippines, but their being in their homeland with their families cannot be equated with material value because the social cost of migration is incompensable,” said Baldoz.
She added that semi- or low-skilled workers can avail of the TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program to become jobs-fit or job-ready for higher-paying occupations.
“We are also confident they can be successful if they go the entrepreneurial route,” said Baldoz. “We can help cleaners, for example, organize themselves into community service enterprises that can render cleaning jobs,” she said.
OFW returnees who may opt to engage in livelihood can expect assistance from the government through its numerous livelihood programs being implemented by various government agencies, such as the DSWD’s Reintegration Program for Deportees and Returning Undocumented OFWs and Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program and the DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading.
In the DOLE, the livelihood programs are a component of the Assist WELL Program, now institutionalized and set-up at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, National Reintegration Center for OFWs and in 15 DOLE regional offices.
These programs are as follows:(1) Livelihood Development Assistance Program (LDAP), with P5 million budget for 2016; (2) Balik-Pinay Balik-Hanapbuhay Program, with P20 million; (3) DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP), with a budget of P1.019 billion for this year; and (4) P2-Billion National Reintegration Loan Fund.
The labor and employment chief said she had also asked the POLOs to determine how many of the Filipino household service workers in the Middle East are teachers so the DOLE can offer them teaching jobs under the joint DOLE-DepEd program, “Sa ‘Pinas, Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir”, which has been very successful in placing teacher-OFWs in public elementary schools.
Based on OFW LET passers profiled by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, the GCC countries with the most number of OFW teachers are Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. In the Philippines, the top five regions with the most number of applicants are Regions 2; 6; 7; 3; and 1. Already, the DOLE has endorsed to DepEd 814 OFW LET passers. In 2015, the number of OFWs absorbed as teachers under the program reached 129.
A holder of Teacher 1 (SG 11) position approximately receives P20,549 monthly pay, and approximately P90,000 per year in other benefits. The DepEd has 30,000 vacancies this year for teachers and has allocated 300 of these for OFW teachers.