Press Release
February 14, 2018

Tap huge OFW talent pool to end gov't 'technical deficit'

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has advised government to look at returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in filling tens of thousands of vacant jobs in the bureaucracy and in government-funded "build, build, build" projects.

From schools to the police to infrastructure projects, there are positions requiring "skilled talent," Recto said.

"Hindi naman pwede na hanggang bibili na lang sila ng jeep, o magbubukas ng sari-sari store ang mga nagbabalikang OFWs. Let us tap their skills. It is one way of reversing the brain drain," he said.

The national government is forecast to end 2018 with 246,596 unfilled positions, while industry leaders have warned that skilled labor shortage might hinder the country's "golden age of infrastructure".

Recto said the Department of Education has teaching vacancies this year, consisting of 81,000 positions authorized in the 2018 national budget plus 34,436 positions carried over from past years' appropriations.

Noting that DepED has this insurmountable backlog in mentors, Recto said DOLE should restart its "Sa 'Pinas Ikaw ang Ma'am/Sir" project which helps OFWs who have degrees in education to land jobs at DepEd.

DepEd, which has a budget of P105.4 billion this year for Basic Education Facilities, which include classrooms, is also setting aside the equivalent of P3 billion for site validation, hiring of engineers, and detailed engineering activities.

Other agencies in need of construction experts are DPWH and the Department of Transportation, the two lead agencies in the government's ambitious P2.5 trillion "build, build, build" program.

The DPWH has 1,777 vacancies in its approved plantilla of 19,501 personnel while the DOTr's mother agency, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), had 1,297 reported vacancies last year.

Former Rails Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said multiple lines to be constructed in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao would need at least 30,000 workers.

Recto said the lack of engineers, architects, and skilled technical persons had been blamed for budget underspending in the past when projects failed to take off.

"We're hoping that this can be cured by returning talent," Recto said. "Underspending is an offshoot of being understaffed."

Recto said other frontline social agencies are also on a hiring spree.

"The DSWD is in need of more people who will run and manage P142 billion worth of welfare projects. The DOH needs more doctors and nurses," he said.

The Philippine National Police, which has a vacancy of 25,938, plans to hire 10,000 rookie cops this year. "It also needs more IT-savvy staff, cyberwarriors," he said.

To attract OFWs who may want to return to the country and join the civil service, our embassies should start "posting 'help wanted' ads" in consular offices.

"The government has year-round job fair. It remains the number one job recruiter. Thus, it should scout for talent among the OFWs," Recto said.

Recto admitted though that job opportunities in the public sector are not at a volume that can trigger a mass exodus back home, "and the pay relatively is not that big."

"Yes, it makes a little dent. Pero doon sa gustong bumalik na qualified naman at gusto mag-stay for good sa kanilang hometown para naman matirhan ang bahay na matagal nilang pinaghirapan ipundar, magandang i-offer ang ganitong trabaho kesa sa wala," Recto said.

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