According to recruitment consultant Manny Geslani, the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to 180 countries declined by nine percent in 2017 as compared to 2016, a banner year of deployment for migrant workers that hit 2,112,331.
Joven Cagande/File
OFW deployment drops after 10-year growth
Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - September 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines registered a nine-percent decline in the deployment of migrant workers in 2017 after 10 years of continuous growth.

According to recruitment consultant Manny Geslani, the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to 180 countries declined by nine percent in 2017 as compared to 2016, a banner year of deployment for migrant workers that hit 2,112,331.

Records provided by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that only 1,992,746 workers were deployed in 2017.

This is the first time the figure dipped after 10 years of continuous increase from 2008 with over two million OFWs, the POEA’s planning branch said.

Geslani said the slight decrease in deployment may be attributed to the decline in the hiring for Saudi Arabia, which dropped to 163,238 in 2017.

Among others, there were major decreases in demand for OFWs in the top destinations: Kuwait, Qatar, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Oman.

Another reason for the decline is the increasing shift of Saudi Arabia to employ its own citizens to work in companies and malls as part of its “Saudization” policy. 

In addition, more major projects in Saudi Arabia have been shelved or delayed resulting in the exodus of more than 30,000 Filipinos skilled in construction, maintenance services and oil industries in the 2016-2017 period.

Crude oil, still in the $70-80 level, has prevented Middle East countries from embarking on construction and infrastructure projects with the exception of Qatar, which is in the midst of preparations for World Cup 2022.

Even the demand for domestic helpers, or the so-called Household Service Workers (HSWs) sector, also dropped by eight percent in 2017 with only 231,251 compared to 275,073 due to internal controls implemented by the Philippine Labor Officers in the Middle East.

Deployment of HSWs in 2018 is not expected to go beyond the 200,000 mark with the ban imposed in Kuwait from January to July in 2018, resulting in the loss of 40,000 jobs.

Among the top skills listed by the POEA are HSWs, manufacturing labor, nurses, cleaners and helpers, waiters, home-based personal care, civil engineering laborers, welders and flame cutters, health care assistants, plumbers and pipe fitters, building construction laborers, drivers, cooks, dancers and choreographers, and stall and market sales staff.

However, the outlook in Asia is quite good with the opening of the market in Japan for more technical trainees and caregivers by this month and is expected to surge till the end of the year. More than 120 local recruitment agencies have been accredited by Japanese authorities to deploy agricultural, construction, skilled workers and caregivers for the next five years to fill up the labor shortage in that country.

Other labor markets that are promising are in Europe like Germany, which needs hundreds of nurses, Czech Republic, Russia and the United Kingdom, which recently lifted visa rules for more Filipino nurses.

Getting more benefits

On the other hand, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said more Filipino workers abroad are getting financial aid and other benefits from the agency, starting in 2017.

OWWA administrator Hans Cacdac reported an almost three-fold increase in the “direct payment” beneficiaries of the agency.

“The number of direct beneficiaries of OWWA increased by 245 percent which means the money from the trust fund went straight to the hands of the members,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac said direct payment benefits were provided to the OFW members through welfare, calamity and scholarship programs.

“This is good because more OWWA members directly benefitted from our programs. The figure excludes indirect benefits,” he added.  – With Mayen Jaymalin, Delon Porcalla

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