Sunday, January 01, 2006

More jobs await Pinoys in 2006

More jobs here and abroad will be available to Filipinos in 2006. Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said on Friday that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is expected to expand in the Middle East as well as in host countries like Korea, Israel, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Cyprus.

The Middle East, she said, remains the biggest source of employment for OFWs for the next three years with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Israel, Libya and Jordan generating the most new job opportunities.

She said the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in the Middle East will pursue marketing strategies to open new employment opportunities in the region from 2006 to 2008.

Labor attachés estimate 258,950 new jobs will be available in the Middle East in the next three years and some 173,600 in the Gulf Cooperation Countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Another 85,350 employment opportunities in non-GCC countries like Lebanon, Israel, Libya and Jordan will be opened.

Some 347,311 OFWs are in non-GCC countries representing 98.56 percent of the number of land-based OFWs in the Middle East in 2004, or 49.3 percent of the year’s global figures.

In the GCC countries, the biggest number of new jobs will come from construction and marked expansion in the medical, tourism, retail, and information and communications technology sectors.

Oil and gas exploration will also be expanded, needing more hired hands. Add to this the increasing demand for household help and caregivers.

Sto. Tomas said the DOLE and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will market OFW services to employers through labor marketing missions in the region and through job fairs.

She said the DOLE will try to enhance the image of OFWs as world-class workers and to sustain the Middle-East’s preference for Filipinos over other nationalities.

Over 20,000 jobs are available in Korea as a result of the latest round of key economic agreements between Seoul and Manila.

Filipinos are highly preferred by the Koreans for their skills and efficiency, Sto. Tomas said.

"Most of those jobs are in manufacturing and factory sectors and as well as in the construction industry," she said.

The DOLE carries out job promotion through the regulation and provision of placement services for Filipino workers. At the backbone of this strategy is the network of Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) set up by the DOLE in key municipalities and provinces of the country.

From January to October this year, the PESOs solicited 789,779 vacancies. About 566,561 applicants were referred to these vacancies, of which 410,132 were placed.

During the first 10 months of 2005, the DOLE worked with the PESOs and the private sector to hold 566 job fairs, which offered 769,429 vacancies including overseas jobs. Some 23,295 workers were hired on the spot.

Another innovative move of the DOLE to find jobs for the workers was the conduct of the recent DOLE Labor Opportunities Program. Designed as an in-bound marketing activity to promote the OFWs and showcase their skills and talents, the program brought together in one forum foreign employers wanting to hire Filipino specialists, workers and seafarers.

Records show that local and overseas employment posted significant improvement this year, effectively reducing the country’s unemployment rate.

Sto. Tomas said local employment nationwide rose to 32.9 million as of end-October this year from 31.7 million recorded in the same period last year.

Globally, she said, some 897,469 OFWs were hired/rehired in more than 180 host destinations overseas as of December 12, 2005, or a growth of 6,760 compared with 890,709 in the same period in 2004.

"This represents a marked improvement in the local employment rate, effectively reducing the unemployment rate. The generation of 1.1 million employment opportunities in October is the highest net increment recorded in 2005," Sto. Tomas said, citing the October 2005 round of the Labor Force Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office.

She said that statistics show that employment grew across all three sectors of the Philippine economy—services, agriculture and industry.

The services sector recorded the highest employment growth reaching 739,000, followed by agriculture with 390,000, and industry with 6,000.

In the services sector, the wholesale and retail trade subsector posted the highest increase (426,000) followed by private households with employed persons (93,000), hotels and restaurants (72,000), and public administration and defense, compulsory social security (44,000).

William B. Depasupil, ABS-CBN

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