The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has sent a three-man team to Korea to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in this country find alternative employment and other productive undertakings before the global crisis could hit their current employment.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the team has been directed to prepare the OFWs before they actually lose their jobs with alternative opportunities which they may undertake to ease the impact of the global crisis on them and their families.
The team consists of personnel from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).
Roque said that under DOLE Administrative Order No. 42, series of 2009, the team would coordinate with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Seoul in identifying firms in Korea with OFWs workers who could lose their jobs due to the global crisis.
He said the team would immediately meet with vulnerable OFWs in the identified firms to profile their skills for appropriate job matching and referral to other companies, whether onsite or in local firms in the Philippines, where their skills are needed.
OFWs who are in need of skills upgrading and retooling, on the other hand, would be issued onsite with scholarship training vouchers from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The DOLE Chief said the TESDA vouchers would enable the OFW-beneficiaries to train immediately upon their return to the Philippines in skills that are needed by industry, thereby, enhancing their employability locally and overseas.
At the same time, the three-man DOLE team would provide livelihood orientation to OFWs who may no longer want to work in Korea and instead opt to set up their own business enterprises in the Philippines.
Roque said the team would assist said OFWs in organizing themselves for livelihood projects and also in preparing their business proposals.
The Labor and Employment Secretary also said that another DOLE team will be sent to Korea to negotiate for the renewal of the country’s participation in the Korean Employment Permit System (EPS) in line with national efforts in jobs preservation and generation for Filipino workers.
The last MOU on the EPS forged in 2006 between the DOLE and the Korean Labor Ministry expired last year.
Roque said the team would meet and discuss with their South Korean Ministry of Labor specifically the conclusion of a new EPS memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and South Korea that would provide for the recruitment and deployment of OFWs to this country in the next two years.
He said that despite the raging global crisis that had displaced 74 OFWs in Korea, the Philippines is keen on renewing its participation in the Korean EPS in view of this country’s continuing preference for OFWs.
He cited the initiative of the South Korean government to prioritize OFWs displaced by the global crisis for available new job openings under the EPS. POEA data also showed that in January this year, about 30 OFWs have been offered to work in Korea under the EPS.
At the same time, the DOLE team would confer and explore with the Korean Ministry of Education the prospect of deploying Filipino English teachers to Korea and also with appropriate authorities the prospect of sending OFWs to the Incheon Free Export Zone in Incheon which is a major Korean seaport near Seoul. The export zone is envisioned to become the center of international business, IT, biotechnology, logistics and tourism in Northeast Asia.