Government to give free language program for returning OFWs-A A +A
Saturday, July 16, 2011
AT LEAST P5 million was allotted for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) expected to be displaced by the nationalized employment program in Saudi Arabia, a Cabinet official said Saturday.
Among others, the stand-by fund will be used for free review classes to be offered to OFWs. This will allow them to seek fresh opportunities for employment, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) said.
"It's a stand-by fund that the government will be using to reduce the negative effects of so-called Saudization policy. So far, no Filipino has been affected yet but still we have to be ready for any eventuality," Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva told Sun.Star.
The classes are open to OFWs interested in working in Australia and Canada, which Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier identified as possible countries that may absorb the Filipinos to be affected by Saudization.
However, prior to issuance of working visa, both countries require proficiency in English as a Second Language (ESL) in certain occupations.
This is on top of the usual specific requirements for skills certification, according to Villanueva.
An initial 1,000 slots will be allotted for the workers to allow them to undertake review classes under the International English Language Test System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which are among the acceptable English language test requirements in those two countries.
Tesda will give full subsidy of P5,000 to each trainee for the language review as the fund will be sourced from the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), one of Tesda's main scholarship programs.
The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) will come up with the criteria for selecting the OFWs eligible to avail of the assistance.
They will also issue certification as proof that the OFW is entitled to receive the assistance.
A pre-assessment process such as online assessment guide for IELTS prior to availing of the Tesda assistance is also being considered to maximize resources.
More than a million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia as household service workers, nurses, construction workers, doctors and as other professionals. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)