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Monday, March 02, 2009

Recruitment industry joins forces with gov’t to revitalize employment opportunities, OFWs protection

To shore up the overseas employment program in the midst of the global economic crisis, the recruitment industry agreed to jointly pursue with government measures aimed at invigorating the employment chances and capabilities of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to face the challenges brought about by the global crisis, Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said.

Roque said representatives of more than 150 land-based and sea-based recruitment industry stamped their commitment to support job generation and preservation in a “communiqué” personally presented to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacanang, Monday with the full backing of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The Labor and Employment Secretary said the communiqué contains the list of measures that the recruitment industry and concerned government agencies would jointly pursue to preserve the employment of OFWs and at the same time generate jobs for other Filipinos wanting to work abroad.

The measures, he said, include 1) aggressive investments in skills training and skills enhancements, 2) streamlining of recruitment processes and policies, 3) sharing of government and private sector registry of workers, 4) strengthening welfare and protection mechanisms of workers, 5) review of prevailing salary standards, and 5) conduct of bilateral missions for the protection of OFWs onsite.

Roque also said that the industry partners, in a series of recent consultations, assisted government in identifying the myriad of concerns and suggested solutions to promote job preservation and job generation in the land-based and sea-based areas overseas to be jointly conducted by the two sectors.

He said the two sectors agreed to vigorously build on programs geared on skills enhancement through the continuous training of skilled workers, accreditation of more trade centers particularly in the regions, strengthening of the on-the-job-training program, and promotion of public awareness on the need for skills training through information dissemination and education at the grassroots level.

Industry associations also agreed to collectively invest resources in the establishment of training centers with the full support of TESDA.

To facilitate hiring and placement of workers, Roque said the DOLE and POEA shall develop mechanisms aimed at streamlining existing recruitment policies and procedures.
Other measures to be pursued, he added, also include human resource development initiatives such as mutual recognition of skills, return-of-skills program to reverse brain drain, and review of existing salary levels for skilled workers and professionals, onsite recruitment of displaced workers and those who have finished contracts, make the DOLE registry of workers accessible online to the private sector, installation of online interview facilities for foreign employers, provision of mobile passport services during job fairs.

Industry and government shall also jointly conduct labor market development missions. Labor market development for both inbound and outbound are also planned to preserve and generate employment opportunities for seafarers. Market intelligence gathering and research shall also be heightened as partners and shipowners engage in “handholding” efforts and provide assurances about the quality of Filipino seafarers.

Also a continuing priority program identified by the industry with government is strengthening the welfare and protection of expatriate Filipino workers through the pursuit of ethical recruitment practices and aggressive negotiations for more bilateral/multilateral labor and social security agreements.

Other important measures focused on the review of the standard/model employment contracts of expatriate Filipino workers to enhance their working conditions, the need to address shortage of officers in seafaring business, facilitate registration of officers through walk-in examinations, and fast track the implementation of rules on the conduct of management level course (MLC) and single examination procedure.

Recent consultations attended by Philippine labor attachés from the Middle East, Europe and Asia also called on strengthened efforts against illegal recruitment and human trafficking of expatriate Filipino workers, and improvement of the competitiveness of Philippine vessels/ships lay-up areas by opening more lay-up ports.

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