Saudi Arabia will be offering at least one million jobs to Filipino workers as it competes with its Middle Eastern neighbors for skilled manpower, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said Tuesday — and as neighboring Kuwait shuts its doors to Manila.
DMW Secretary Susan Ople said there will be a special hiring program for Filipino workers with Saudi Arabian labor officials set to visit Manila next month to get it rolling.
Curiously, no Kuwaiti representative was present in the Asia-Gulf Cooperation Council Senior Officials Dialogue hosted by the Philippines at the Bonifacio Global City amid Manila and Kuwait’s row over visas for workers (see related story – Editors).
But the DMW said a Kuwaiti minister would try to catch up for the meeting’s last two days.
Ople earlier said the possibility of holding a joint special hiring program was raised due to Saudi Arabia’s push to develop its tourism sector.
“They mentioned their hotel and restaurant sector, they are booming in terms of building cities,” the DMW chief said in a TV Patrol report.
European countries are also interested in hiring skilled Filipino workers, with Ople mentioning Austria, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
Demand for overseas Filipino workers was likewise high in Guam and Canada, she added.
Ople also called for a “bold discussion” to ensure the protection of all migrant workers through better migration governance.
During her speech, she encouraged stakeholders to have a bold discussion and collectively work together to be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Global Contact on Migration (GCM) objectives.
Among the topics to be discussed include SDG Target 8.8 that “protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.”
Also to be tackled is SDG Target 10.7 which refers to the facilitation of “orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”
Included in the pipeline for discussion are GCM Objectives 8 and 23 which refer to the shared responsibility to “facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work.”
According to Ople, Objective 23 seeks to “Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly, and regular migration.”
“In shorthand, what all these means is how do we keep our workers safe as they cross borders, as they look for better opportunities for their families and how to balance the situation, with also the need to meet the needs of our foreign employers for skilled, responsible, and reliable foreign workers,” Ople explains.
With the Philippines hosting the discussions, she expressed hope that actual experiences by senior labor migration officials and resource persons from countries of origin in Asia and countries of destination in the GCC would help in achieving its goals. Jimbo Gulle
“From these discussions, we hope to find each other – not that we are lost, but precisely because we move in the same circles – influencing policy, setting directions in labor mobility, migrants’ and migrant workers’ rights, and gender equality, and other issues,” she said.
Aside from the DMW, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the International Organization for Migration, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Network on Migration, and the Climate Change Commission are also present at the event.
Also present were key government officials from Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates.