There’s life after Libya, OFWs told
MANILA, Philippines–There is life after Libya, said Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) director general Joel Villanueva as he urged reluctant Filipinos in the conflict-torn country to come home.
Villanueva said his agency can provide returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with the technical-vocational training they need to upgrade their skills or teach them new ones that would enable them to either reestablish themselves in the local economy or easily find work in a different, conflict-free foreign country.
“The apprehension of our overseas Filipino workers that coming home is tantamount to losing their jobs is very real and understandable. But recent events have shown that the threat to safety and lives of Filipinos in Libya has become even greater,” Villanueva said in a statement.
“It now becomes more and more urgent that Filipinos in Libya avail of voluntary repatriation as soon as possible. No job is worth one’s life,” he said.
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Tuesday said it was unfair to say that many OFWs in crisis-stricken countries are refusing to come home because there are no jobs available in the Philippines.
“There are local jobs awaiting overseas Filipino worker repatriates from Libya,” she said in a statement.
Baldoz said that it was probable that the main reason OFWs are reluctant to come home was “the difference in pay.”
“[It was] the reason why they left the country in the first place,” she said.
Most, if not all, OFWs “endure the risks of working abroad because of higher pay,” she pointed out.
“We know that most workers who go abroad have jobs here before they decided to look for greener pastures because experience-wise, only those with at least two years of experience get to work overseas,” Baldoz said.
Repatriates from Libya and other strife-torn nations “will find local jobs to their liking as long as they are qualified and willing to work,” she said.
She noted that a tally made by the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), a Department of Labor and Employment-attached agency, revealed that there were at least 979 construction and engineering-related job vacancies in the country. The vacancies are posted in the Enhanced Phil-Jobnet System, the government’s web-based job matching and labor market information facility.
“Of this number, 854 positions are available locally while the remaining 125 are abroad,” she said.
The available posts are only for construction and engineering-related jobs. The BLE is still collating the job vacancies for medical and other professional workers, said Baldoz.
Overseas, construction and engineering-related jobs are available in Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to Baldoz.
She said local and foreign job referrals are part of the DOLE’s Assist Well Program, a package of services aimed at “ensuring returning OFWs are promptly integrated in the mainstream of Philippine society.”
“We are ready for their arrival and subsequent reintegration in their home country,” she said as she also assured they “have many job opportunities for our OFWs here, opportunities that will help them move forward in life.”
She added that “aside from giving a boost to our local economy, they will be with their loved ones here.”
Villanueva assured the OFWs that the government has put in place sufficient measures that would ensure that returning OFWs still have a future, including training programs on various courses that are needed in the industries with the most demand for workers.
Among these courses are those in the priority sectors like construction, food and beverage, information and communication technology, automotive, metals and engineering, tourism, agriculture and fisheries.
He said returning OFWs may obtain information on the available training programs and schedules from the agency’s provincial, district or regional offices, and technical-vocational institutions with Tesda-registered programs.
They may also avail of free training under the agency’s Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), he added.
Villanueva said that technical-vocational graduates can have themselves assessed for skills competency so they can be issued national certificates pointing out that Tesda-certified workers are the most sought-after employees by domestic and foreign industries.
Tesda graduates also have the option of setting up their own businesses under the agency’s entrepreneurship training programs, he said.
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