DOLE ties up with Zamboanga City on special project for overseas employment

Date Posted: April 28th, 2014 02:12 AM

First to benefit will be 800 men displaced by the September 2013 siege

DOLE ties up with Zamboanga City on special project for overseas employment

If Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar had her way, she would like her constituents, particularly those who were displaced by the September 2013 siege of Zamboanga City to work abroad; but only the men folks, please, as she expressed desire that the women remain in Zamboanga City to care for their children and help their husbands support their families by engaging in livelihood activities.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, a friend of the mayor, has heard her plea, and directed the regional offices of the DOLE, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs in Region 9 to work together on the implementation of an employment facilitation project for male workers, aged 18-35 years, and internally-displaced by the siege.

"This special project is part of the DOLE's strategy of facilitating job matching and placement of workers to attain enhanced employability, by making it easy and fast for jobseekers to find jobs that fits their qualifications, interests, and career inclinations," said Baldoz during the signing of a memorandum of agreement on the project at the Orchid Garden Hotel in Zamboanga City.

"It is also part of the strategy of enhancing access to emergency employment and livelihood, as well as to attain strengthened social protection for vulnerable workers, a key planned outcome of the DOLE," she added.

Baldoz expressed delight that Mayor Climaco-Salazar supports the DOLE in its effort for the Philippines to gradually leave the lower-level skills category of workers, such as female household service workers, in overseas employment, and to move to the high-end category by deploying only skilled workers.

She informed Mayor Climaco that she had assigned two labor attaches led by Labor Attache Nasser S. Mustafa to lead in the project's implementation, saying that in the months two come, she will assign homecoming labor attaches to the other regions to implement a similar project using the agreement for Region 9 as template.

"This truly can be done. If overseas employers really prefer Filipinos, then they should consider hiring only our skilled male workers and not the semi- or unskilled workers who are vulnerable to abuse. This will encourage licensed recruitment agencies to look for employers of skilled male workers and directly hire them in the regions rather than the applicants coming to Manila," she said. She also explained that the impact of this project will be immediate.

"If successful, there will be less welfare cases of abused women OFWs, particularly, household service workers. Women staying at home and men working, whether locally or overseas, will strengthen the Filipino family," she said.

Baldoz, hoping to reverse the trend in the deployment which is in favor of semi-skilled or unskilled female workers, noted that in 2013, the POEA regional office processed 11,860 OFWs, of whom 7,540 were women workers, while only 4,320 were male. Of the women, 2,710 were service workers.

"This predominantly female mix of deployed workers from the region must be slowly reversed in favor of skilled and professional male workers. We need to 'graduate' from the reputation as a source of low-end skills manpower," she said.

Under the agreement, the DOLE Zamboanga City Field Office is tasked to coordinate with and inventory local companies currently employing IDPs who desire to work abroad, and are residents of Barangays Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo, Mampang, Arena Blanco, Kasanyangan, and Mariki, the seven city barangays affected by the siege.

It will disseminate information and provide support for the smooth and successful implementation of the project. The role of the city government is to validate and certify the identity and residency of the male IDPs and assist qualified beneficiaries obtain birth certificates, police and NBI clearances, passports, and medical certificates, as may be necessary.

The NRCO is tasked to profile the IDPs as to skills. It shall keep, maintain, and update the records. It shall also schedule of the pre-employment orientation seminar and pre-departure orientation seminar in coordination with the OWWA, POEA, and the city government of Zamboanga.

Informed by DOLE Regional Director Sisinio Cano that profiles of 800 IDPs are already available and that the TESDA has already an inventory of trained and certified skills in the region, Baldoz instructed the POEA to already consider allowing its satellite office in Zamboanga City to process documentary requirements for qualified applicants and to approve job orders for skilled occupations.

"The TESDA will continue to train for free those who do not have yet the required skills and those with identified skills gap and assess and certify the workers," she said.

The OWWA's role under the agreement is to conduct the pre-departure orientation seminar, or PDOS, and facilitate the release of pre-departure loan, if applicable, in coordination with the POEA, which is tasked to identify job orders from foreign employers that hire skilled male OFWs, preferably through government-to-government arrangement, at minimal or, at no, cost.

Mayor Climaco-Reyes, Regional Director Sisinio B. Cano, overall project chairman, Labor Attaché Nasser S. Mustafa, co-chairman, Labor Attache Adam Musa, OWWA Director Hassan Gabra T. Jumdain, TESDA Regional Director Lorenzo G. Macapili, POEA Satellite Office Head Marietta Bellotindos, and Sharmaine Gador, President of the Assciation of Zamboanga Peninsula Recruitment Agencies, signed the agreement for the special project.


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