Tuesday, 3 March 2009

At least 500,000 overseas jobs for Filipinos guaranteed: Roque

Mia M. Gonzalez
Business Mirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/top-news/6888-at-least-500000-overseas-jobs-are-guaranteed-roque.html

THERE are 500,000 guaranteed overseas jobs for Filipinos this year that labor officials are working to fill up, announced Labor Secretary Marianito Roque on Monday, adding the vacancies are primarily in the Middle East, mostly in construction, oil and gas, and maintenance services. “These are new vacancies; they have to be filled up. . . .We lost 5,000 jobs overseas, there are half-a-million jobs available.”

Speaking at a jobs forum held in Malacañang, he said Filipinos do not have to compete with other nationalities since “these are already job orders for Filipinos that are with the POEA. It’s a matter of filling it up for the year.” There are also vacancies in Canada and Australia, according to him.

Roque said his department will set up “online interview facilities” in their regional offices through which potential employers can interview applicants online. “We will do this over the next two to three months to speed up the employment process of Filipinos. Part of that will be the improvement in the documentation processes.”

The biggest challenge in doing so, however, would be to match available jobs with properly skilled workers, he said. “The challenge is how to bridge that gap between the qualification and the requirement for those skills.”

Thus, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will train otherwise qualified applicants in skills needed for the jobs, which they can also use locally if they do not want to leave.

The President has said while she has already allotted P2 billion for Tesda this year, it may spend over its budget if necessary should there be other available funds from unused budgets of other agencies.

“[I told Tesda], you don’t have to try to live within P2 billion. If it is used up [and you need more], we have a policy now, ‘use it or lose it.’ So if you use up [training] funds to match the skills, we will reduce the budget of other agencies with weak absorptive capacity and then move that budget to DOLE and Tesda,” she said.

Edwina Beech, chairman of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc., said there are “many available jobs overseas, but there is the little problem of mismatching.”

Participants in the jobs forum included stakeholders in overseas employment, government officials, private-sector representatives and workers groups.

They committed to support skills- and trade-training enhancement, development of mechanisms to facilitate hiring and placement, embark on more joint public and private labor market development missions, and preserve and generate employment opportunities for seafarers.

They also pledged to strengthen expatriate Filipino workers’ welfare and protection by the aggressive pursuit of negotiations for more bilateral/multisector labor and social security arrangements, to study unemployment indemnity insurance with the end view of extending them to workers, and a joint campaign among government, private sector and workers groups to ensure the integrity of employment documents.

Other commitments include a review of employment contracts of expatriate workers to improve their working conditions, address the shortage of marine deck and engine officers, combat illegal recruitment and human trafficking, the improvement of the competitiveness of Philippine vessels and the facilitation of the carriage of government cargo by Philippine-registered vessels.

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