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PIA Press Release
2009/02/05

Skills-retooling program going to where OFWs are

Manila (5 February) -- The government's skills-retooling program for Filipino expatriate workers is going where the Filipino workers in foreign countries are.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced the new government scheme to upgrade the skills of Filipino workers on Tuesday during her meeting with the Filipino community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"We are holding professional licensure examinations for Filipino in selected countries like Qatar, Hong Kong and now, Saudi Arabia, to prepare (them) for skilled jobs that command higher salaries," she said during a meeting with members of the Filipino community in Riyadh on Monday.

The objective is to sustain the upgrading of the capabilities of Filipino workers --- already the employees of choice in various countries for their honesty, industry, reliability and capability to easily learn new skills.

She explained that under the government's retraining program, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) will conduct licensure examinations for Filipino professionals, who have yet to take the exams required for their profession, right in the country where they are working.

The idea is to enable the Filipinos professionals still without license to take the licensure tests without having to return to the Philippines for the examination.

"In that way, professionals who pass the licensure exams will have better chances for promotion and getting higher salary, not to mention job security," the President said.

She told the OFWs that back home, the government is pushing its skills-retraining program side-by-side with the creation of more jobs.

She cited the ongoing retraining program for call center agents, welders, bakers and chefs for OFWs who have been displaced or those who would lose their jobs in the midst of the current global economic downturn.

She pointed out that the government has also earmarked P1 billion for the Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF), one of the safety nets for OFWs displaced in the current global economic crisis.

The FELSF, which is being administered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), is supported by government lending institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

The FELSF may be used as capital for livelihood projects of displaced Filipino expatriate workers as well as for skills-retooling program, the President said.

She stressed, however, that as she has always pointed out she is looking forward to the day when overseas employment would only be a career option and not the only choice for Filipinos. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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