THE government should encourage returning Filipino household service workers (HSWs) to skill up as highly-paid welders, or tradespersons who specialize in fusing materials together, the party-list group ACTS-OFW said Sunday.
“While welding is considered a non-traditional occupation for women, many manufacturing and construction firms here and abroad actually prefer women as welders owing to their calmer hands,” said ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III.
“In fact, semiconductor and electronics companies also favor women as workers because of their steadier hands,” Bertiz said.
A portion of this year’s P7-billion budget for the government’s Free Technical and Vocational Education and Training should be invested in the retooling of returning HSWs who are willing to shift jobs as welders, Bertiz said.
“The government could initially target returning HSWs from the Middle East, particularly those who are high school graduates or undergraduates, and who are underpaid,” Bertiz said.
Many foreign employers in the Middle East still pay their Filipino HSWs only $250 to $300 a month, despite a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration order pegging their minimum monthly salary at $400.
“We have a persistent shortage of welders here at home because fewer Filipinos are entering the vocation, and many of our welders have gone to greener pastures abroad,” Bertiz said.
He cited the case of New Zealand, where Filipino welders are getting paid on average the equivalent of P5,176 per 8-hour day, or almost 10 times the P537 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila.
“We expect the lack of welders here at home to worsen in the months ahead, considering President Duterte’s programmed massive infrastructure spending,” Bertiz said.
The lawmaker cited the need for the government to equip returning HSWs with new skill sets that would enable them to enter higher-paying occupations and achieve a higher standard of living for their families.
“This will also discourage them from going back abroad as HSWs who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because they live with their employers,” Bertiz said.
The Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Thailand and Myanmar are the major suppliers of migrant HSWs in foreign labor markets, according to the International Labor Organization. - ACTS-OFW