Qatar’s new job policy to affect 12,000 OFWs – DOLE

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Government representatives are going to Qatar to help some 12,000 Filipino engineers and architects who may be affected by Qatar’s new employment requirements for foreign workers, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.

She said Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) acting chair Angeline Chua Chiaco and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan are set to meet with Mohammed Al Hammadi, minister of education and higher education, and the Qatar Supreme Education Council to “make strong representations” in support of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“We are optimistic that the PRC-CHED mission will successfully meet its goal to convince Qatari authorities to give our Filipino engineers and architects the equivalency. Qatari employers, based on information that has reached me, are open and supportive of the Filipino pofessionals’ request,” she said.

Qatar is implementing a new equivalency system for the educational qualifications and relevant work experience of foreign workers to qualify as engineers or architects in Qatar.

Workers were given until today to register with Qatar’s Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA).

Filipino engineers are unable to do so because of the Supreme Education Council’s requirement of a 12-year basic education, or a total of 16 years of education for registering professionals in Qatar.

“The Supreme Education Council considers the 12-year basic education program as equivalent to a high school diploma. As such, Filipino engineers could not register with the UPDA because all of them underwent only 10 years of basic education, and the Qatari authorities have only issued a two-year diploma equivalency for engineering degrees earned in Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs),” Baldoz said.

The labor chief said if the workers will not register, they cannot practice their profession in Qatar. “In short, the 12,000 OFW engineers could possibly be displaced from their jobs,” she said.

Baldoz, however, was quick to assure that OFW engineers, who work in 20 to 30 percent of construction consultancy firms in Qatar, will not be easily displaced.

She said Qatari authorities, as well as employers, have expressed openness to acknowledging the full equivalency of the educational qualifications and relevant work experience of Filipino engineers so they may be able to practice their professions in Qatar.

The demand for Filipino workers in Qatar also continues to rise.

Based on the records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, there was an increase of 19,362 in Qatar job orders from 85,510 in 2014 to 104,872 in 2015.

“Filipino professionals in Qatar, like in many parts of the world, are the employers’ preferred choice. This challenge is not difficult to hurdle because employers themselves are very aware of our workers’ capabilities and qualifications,” she added.

Baldoz also said that she has not received any official report of Filipino engineers or architects being displaced on account of the requirement.

There are 172,000 migrant Filipino workers in Qatar, 23,000 of whom are professionals; 86,000 are highly skilled; 30,000 are semi- or low-skilled; and 30,000 are household service workers.

“Filipino engineers and architects in Qatar receive monthly salaries between a low of P99,000 to a high of P300,000 per month,” Baldoz said.          















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