FFE Magazine

Philippine labour market may soon be open for foreign skilled Workers

by FFE PH News Staff



Economic integration blueprint for Asean countries opens up more labour opportunities in the region.


The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) announced Tuesday that the Philippines will soon hire foreigners to address the gap in qualified skilled workers in the country. This comes after the department released a report listing hard-to-fill occupations in the country.


Labour and Employment secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said that the Philippine Skilled Occupational Shortage List is being developed to address jobs and skills mismatch. She explained that the list was compiled from two sources: statistics from the Bureau of Labour and Employment and information from Project Jobs Fit: The DOLE 2020 Vision.


Just some of the hard-to-fill positions that need skilled workers include: chemical engineer, environmental planner, fisheries technologist, geologist, sanitary engineer, computer numerical control machinist, assembly technician, pilot and aircraft mechanic.


According the Baldoz, the department is now looking to ‘liberalise the labor market and allow entry of foreign workers with the required skills so we can fill up those hard-to-fill occupations due to shortage.’ She added that the list can be used as basis for a policy that will cover the entry of foreign skilled workers or ‘brain gain.’ She said ‘By ensuring the continued availability of qualified workers, we are making our industries competitive.’


As of December last year, the department has been eyeing ways to improve the process of securing Alien Employment Permit in preparation for the fulfillment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. The goal of the AEC is for the 10 nations that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to integrate their economies by 2015 to create a ‘highly competitive single market and production.’


Free flow of skilled labour is one of the provisions of AEC. Under the provision, issuance of employment passes, job placements and labour market information will be improved among the member countries. The Philippines has been signatory to this agreement since 2007.


Philippine Representative in Taiwan Antonio Basilio explained that the effect of AEC will be ‘reciprocal’ among countries. This means that the Philippines ‘will also allow service providers from other Asean countries to send their skilled workers to the Philippines in the course of rendering a contracted for service.’


However, he added that ‘Since we have an advantage in terms of the number of skilled workers [able to speak English] and lower wages than some Asean countries, it is more likely that there will be a net outflow in our favour.’


Meanwhile, migrants group Migrante slammed DOLE’s announcement, saying that opening the labour market to foreigners was ‘insulting to millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).’ The group said the government has still a lot to do to address the issue of Filipinos looking for jobs aboard. They cited a March 2013 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that revealed the Philippines has one of the biggest underemployment rates in the region at 27.2%


Migrante urged the government to improve industries and agriculture to allow more Filipinos to get steady jobs without leaving the country.



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