Task force OFW formed for Filipinos from Saudi-A A +A
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has created Task Force OFW (overseas Filipino workers) to prepare for the displacement of migrant workers amid the looming "Saudization", or the move of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to limit the number of overseas workers.
The Saudization or what KSA refers to as "nitaqat" scheme involves categorizing public and private firms into color codes that represent if the company complies with the "Saudization" requirement in hiring its own nationals to at least 10 percent of the total numbers of their workforce.
The task force, which will be spearheaded by Dole and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), will be composed of six other government agencies in providing assistance to those who will not be able to go back to work in Saudi Arabia.
Other agencies involved are Department of Foreign Affairs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Department of Health.
"We will be working as one team and we will be coming up with action plans and drafting them to help OFWs, crisis or no crisis," said Venerando C. Cebrano, assistant regional director of Dole.
He added that they also be partnering with the local government unit, specifically the Public Employment Service Office (Peso)-Davao, in providing OFWs local employment.
"May mga OFWs who were prioritized by the mayor nung may revamp na nangyari sa City Engineers Office, kadaghanan sa ilaha kay katung mga na-repatriate from Libya," said Lilibeth Pantinople, officer in charge of Peso.
"Kagaya ng DFA they (government agencies) will be providing special lanes for those OFWs who wish to go work in another country, Owwa has been giving seminars aside from financial aids, ang Tesda naman will be providing trainings and seminars as well kung may mga OFWs who wish to learn new skills," Cebrano said.
The DTI and Dole will hire experts and conduct seminar to help OFWs in learning the tricks of the trade and industry and help those who wish to try their hands in entrepreneurship.
The health and social welfare departments are the agencies assigned to help OFWs who are in distress and will be taking care of crisis intervention.
"May mga labor centers na tayo in other countries that will take care and assess psychosocial welfare services," Cebrano said.
The Task Force OFW, she said, will help curb the increase in unemployment rate attributed to the Saudi ban.
Recent statistics show a 5.8 percent unemployment rate recorded in Davao Region, while in 2010, a six percent unemployment rate was recorded.
To date, there are 12 Filipino migrant workers who have been terminated from their respective jobs in KSA, according to Migrante-Middle East.
Meanwhile, Peso-Davao is worried for domestic helpers who will lose their jobs due to the "Saudization", especially those above 30 years old.
"Lisud na jud kaayo makakita ug trabaho ang 30 years old and above nga mga babae sa department stores diri pero pwede na sila sa factories kay walay age limit didto (It is very hard for female ages 30 years old and above to be hired in department stores but they can work in factories as they do not require any age limit)," Pantinople said.
She added that they are doing their best to address the unemployment rate in the city by assisting companies in looking for qualified applicants especially repatriated workers.
"Daghan na ang nakatrabaho na gikan sa gawas nga mga skilled workers, gipanguha sila sa City Engineer's Office labaw natong mga engineers nga katung mga gikan ug Libya (There are a lot of skilled workers who have been hired by the City Engineer's Office especially engineers from Libya)," Pantinople said.
There are also construction offices that have posted vacancies for skilled and unskilled workers to help workers repatriated from other countries like Yemen and Libya.
"Dili man nato na sila mapugos ug trabaho diri kay lahi ra jud ang rate sa sweldo kung ikumpara nimu diri ug didto sa gawas, pero daghan man unta pwede himuon aside from working abroad like magbusiness, daghan resources diri sa ato (We can't force them to work here because there is a big difference in terms of wages here and abroad, but there are a lot things that could be done here, like they could put up business because we have a lot of resources here)," Pantinople noted.
She added that during their Pre-employment Seminars for Local Applicants (Pesla), they do not only encourage them to work for a company but we urge them to look for other options if they have enough money earned.
Pre-Employment for Overseas Seminar also allows Peso to provide applicants an overview of how it is to work abroad.
"Gina-provide namu na nga seminar para makabalo sila sa do's and don'ts of working abroad ug ginahatagan namu sila ug idea nga they could always become entrepreneurs here as Dole 11 (department of Labor and Employment) are giving seminars for that," Pantinople noted.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 12, 2011.