Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has reiterated his call on Filipino migrant workers, particularly those in the Middle East, to return home for good and take advantage of thousands of locally available job opportunities amid existing political and economic difficulties in some Gulf countries.
In an administrative order, Bello ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) to conduct a supply-demand profiling and skills-job matching, which the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will use as basis to convince overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to return to the country.
The move, he said, is part of the government’s efforts for productive reintegration of returning OFWs to reverse the country’s decades-old labor export policy.
“The final aim of the President is to get back our OFWs, not for them to return [to their jobs abroad],” Bello added.
He has created a Job Fair Task Force that will conduct a special job fair and skills profiling of OFWs based in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Bello earlier disclosed that around 644 OFWs have already been laid off in Qatar as a result of a diplomatic spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other Middle East countries.
An undetermined number of OFWs in Saudi Arabia also lost their jobs because of the oil-rich nation’s “Saudization” program, which gives priority to Saudi Arabians for at least 19 job categories, including drivers.
Bello said there were also companies experiencing difficulties or business reversals, which led to retrenchment of workers that started when the price of imported oil went down to below $50 per barrel in the world market.
The low price of oil has reduced the revenue-generating capacity of Saudi Arabia to fund its development programs, prompting it to make some adjustments, such as reducing subsidy to its subjects and other means to bring down expenses..
Bello said concerned Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and other countries will do the preliminary skills profiling of the OFWs in coordination with the International Labor Affairs Bureau.
Through the joint undertaking, the POEA and the BLE will conduct employers’ forums and gather the number of vacancies, skills requirements and geographical locations (local and overseas), as well as determine the companies interested to join the job fair.
Also, the two agencies shall process the supply and demand profile and come up with labor market information that will serve as a guide for matching of available skills and employer demand for workers.
OFWs who require further upgrading of skills requirements of the participating employers will be referred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for training prior to their deployment, whether local or overseas.
Bello also called on all sectors to support the government’s continuing efforts to help the OFWs, especially those who lost their jobs, through better paying job opportunities to convince them to stay for good in the country.