By Veronica Uy
Posted date: January 04, 2008
MANILA, Philippines — The weakened dollar against the peso will discourage Filipinos, especially professionals and highly skilled workers, from leaving the country, an official of a recruiters’ group said Friday.Jackson Gan, vice president of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters (FAME), said this phenomenon would reduce the number of overseas Filipino workers, making it unlikely for the government to hit its one-million target in OFW deployment for 2008.
The labor department has an OFW deployment annual target of one million until 2010.

“Workers are not attracted to overseas job opportunities because of the strong peso; they would rather seek work in the country since the peso is predicted to hit P38 to a dollar by end of 2008,” he said.

This is unfortunate because there is a huge demand for experienced and skilled construction workers in the Middle East, Gan said.

Gan called on the government to organize a new manpower summit for all the stakeholders, including the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and the Department of Education. In this summit, he said, everyone would participate in finding solutions to the lack of qualified manpower.

Gan said that in 2007, almost half (some 480,000) of the 1,012,054 OFWs who were deployed were re-hires. He said this meant that no new jobs were created.

Another industry leader, Lito Soriano, said that the industry should emphasize the importance of technical-vocational training vis-a-vis traditional courses.

“Educational institutions should shift to vocational training as the demand is now for workers like welders, pipe-fitters, machinists, mechanics, electricians including tailors and engineers,” he said.

A new policy of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which among other things raises the minimum wage of Filipino domestic helpers working abroad, has caused the drop in the number of deployment for this type of work from 140,000 in 2006 to less than 40,000 in 2007, he said.