World Bank commends PHL’s model for migrant labor support

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The Philippines was commended for its migrant labor support system in a World Bank (WB) report issued in October.

The WB report, “Migrating to Opportunity: Overcoming Barriers to Labor Mobility in Southeast Asia,” commended the Philippines as a country that can serve as a good example to the region in helping boost labor mobility because of its migrant labor support.

The “highly-developed support system for migrant labor in the Philippines can serve as a model for other countries,” stated the WB report which highlighted ASEAN countries’ contributions in promoting workers’ welfare and deepening of economic integration.

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The Philippines is a good example of a migration system with clearly defined institutional responsibilities. In the Philippines, several migrant-focused agencies are housed mostly within the Department of Labor and Employment. Their roles and responsibilities are well defined, with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency responsible mainly for managing migration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration responsible mainly for protecting migrants.

The Philippines provides a listing of job opportunities available abroad through the job advertising site JobStreet.com and offers an orientation program to workers who are contemplating migration. The Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) includes modules on working overseas, job search, illegal recruitment, allowable fees and the essential provisions of the employment contract, and country-specific information. The PEOS is mandatory for potential migrants, but can be completed online at no cost.

“With the right policy choices, sending countries can reap the economic benefits of out-migration while protecting their citizens who choose to migrate for work. In receiving countries, foreign workers can fill labor shortages and promote sustained economic growth, if migration policies are aligned with their economic needs,” said Sudhir Shetty, World Bank Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region in a WB release.

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The international finance institution says labor mobility within the region can positively impact their economies as migration could raise incomes of individuals from lower-income countries.

The report estimates that reducing barriers to mobility would improve workers’ welfare – by 14 percent if only targeting high-skilled workers, and by 29 percent if including all workers.

WB also estimates the value of migrant labor to the sending countries as approximately US$62 billion in remittances were sent to ASEAN countries in 2015. Remittances account for 10 percent of GDP in the Philippines, the largest among the ASEAN nations. The country is a sender of significant number of migrant labor to the Middle East and the United States, and a quarter of the world’s ship crews.

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