No sign yet of reduced overseas demand for Filipino workers

THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) yesterday assured that demand for overseas Filipino workers, or OFWs, remains stable, despite the global economic slowdown, even as the government prepares for a “worst case scenario” of a sudden influx of thousands of such workers should they be laid off.

“Our [overseas] employment situation remains stable…We have not received any indications or any reports from our 37 labor officers abroad of any reduction in requirement for our Filipino overseas workers, so the situation remains stable. We do not expect any reduction in the demand for overseas Filipinos, especially in the Middle East,” said Labor Sec. Marianito D. Roque in a press conference in Malacañang.

Mr. Roque admitted there are OFWs who have returned, but this was not due to the spreading financial crisis. “I don’t think it is safe to associate them [returning OFWs] with the financial crisis. This is the normal trend when their contracts are finished.”

The Labor chief even claimed there are new “high-paying” job opportunities abroad.

“We have signed up with four provinces in Canada, which pay rates that are higher than other countries — Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchuan — to start negotiations. Some officials of DoLE are also leaving to tackle potential employment opportunities for Southern Australia,” Mr. Roque said.

“We are also looking at France, Norway and New Zealand as new markets that would need services of Filipinos,” he added.

Mr. Roque said these countries need nurses, information technology personnel, truckers, drivers, and hotel personnel.

He added that the government has drawn a contingency plan to help OFWs in case the economies of their host countries collapse. “We have assumed the worst-case scenario, and we are prepared for it. We have the mechanics to assist our workers,” he said, declining to give details. — Alexis Douglas B. Romero

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