Opportunities aplenty for returning OFWs, Baldoz says
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may be displaced by the Saudi Arabia-Iran tension need not worry about employment if ever they choose to return to the Philippines, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Tuesday.
Baldoz said thousands of career and livelihood opportunities are available to OFWs who are looking to return to the country.
"Career opportunities are aplenty in the Philippines, and if a returning OFW opts to engage in business, that is welcome because that is more potentially rewarding," she said.
At present, there are 230,000 job vacancies culled from employers' postings in the PhilJobNet and from government agencies. These vacancies include 30,000 teachers for public schools and 15,000 nurses for government hospitals.
Of the total number, 90,000 are overseas vacancies in alternative markets derived from valid job orders in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Baldoz said.
Meanwhile, Baldoz ordered labor officials in the Gulf and those DOLE agencies involved in employment facilitation to prepare in case the situation between Saudi Arabia and Iran worsens.
"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," Baldoz said.
"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," she added.
Based on POEA review, about 32 percent of Filipino workers deployed in Saudi Arabia and Iran are household service workers and other household-related workers who are considered vulnerable but 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 TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program to make themselves ready for higher-paying occupations.
OFWs as entrepreneurs
Baldoz also said opportunities are available for OFWs who may want to "go the entrepreneurial route."
"We are also confident they can be successful if they go the entrepreneurial route. We can help cleaners, for example, organize themselves into community service enterprises that can render cleaning jobs," Baldoz said.
Baldoz also said OFW returnees who may opt to engage in livelihood can get 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. —KBK, GMA News