OFW as a permanent phenomenon: Language lessons


(Part 6)

To have a glimpse of the future, in which a developed Philippines will continue to be the source of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in such areas as nursing, caregiving, hospitality, food services and accommodation, and seafaring, it would be enlightening to take a close look at one of the leading ethical recruiting agencies in the Philippines today.

I am referring to EDI-Staffbuilders International, Inc., part of John Clements Consultants, Inc., the pioneer recruitment search firm in the Philippines and a 100% non-fee charging company. It has been locally and internationally recognized for its best practices in ethical recruitment. It partners with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in promoting Decent Work Across Borders (DWAB) and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS). It has a wide experience since it was established in 1978 in such sectors as oil and gas, engineering and construction, IT- BPO and Telecoms, Banking Finance and Insurance, Hospitality and Tourism, Manufacturing FMCG and Retail, Healthcare and Transportation, Automotive and Aviation. In its 45 years of operation, one of the distinctive hallmarks of EDI-Staffbuilders International and success is its having forged strong business alliances in various countries (especially in North America, Japan, and the European Union) with equally reputable organizations that are acknowledged leaders in their industry.

EDI-StaffBuilders has recruited and successfully deployed more than 100,000 Filipino executives, managers, professional and technical staff. Practically all of them decided to work abroad of their free choice and not because of dire poverty as in the case of domestic helpers and other semi-skilled or unskilled service or industrial workers. The average salaries of these recruits are $4,000 to $15,000 for executives and managers; $1,500 to $3,500 for professional and highly technical workers; $800 to $1,500 for skilled workers. These are the types of OFWs who will continue to seek employment abroad even if the Philippines, say in 2040, is able to bring down the poverty incidence close to zero level.

EDI-StaffBuilders has been consistently recognized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) through such awards as Top Performer Award, Hall of Famer, Presidential Award of Distinction and Award of Excellence. In February 2014, the Presidential Award of Excellence was conferred to EDI-StaffBuilders by the late President Benigno S. Aquino III. The criteria used for the granting of the award were deployment volume, technical capability, compliance with recruitment laws and rules, industry leadership and social awareness and responsibility.

One business partnership established by EDI-Staffbuilders that is a harbinger of future recruitment of highly paid Filipino professionals and technical workers is with a Japanese company which is recognized as one of the top three leading management consulting and personnel services companies in Japan.

In 2019, a new subsidiary of this Japanese company was established, to cater mainly to the high demand and critical need of Japan for foreign workers, especially in the health and hospitality sectors. This company established a Philippine subsidiary which set up a Language Institute in Cabuyao, Laguna to primarily provide an intensive Language and Culture Training Program for all their recruited caregivers. The high-end facilities and methodology of the Institute has resulted in a 70% passing rate in the Japanese language proficiency test administered twice a year. This fact illustrates that one of the strengths of Filipinos is their facility to learn different languages.

EDI-Staffbuilders has made similar arrangements with Philippine educational institutions and language training centers to teach their recruits languages as varied as German, Finnish, Czech, Polish, and Spanish. In fact, another example of language training was the partnership of EDI-Staffbuilders with a German outfit in opening up a boarding school in Cabuyao, Laguna. The main goal of the school was to create a conducive environment where nurses could learn the German language as quickly as possible. The German language training was given for free and so were the accommodation and food of the trainees. Aside from the usual classroom lectures and exercises, language learning was made more interactive and personal via various activities such as parlor games, song and dance numbers, and theatrical plays. The set up developed not only the language skills of the nurses but also built camaraderie and a sense of belonging among the group which helped the trainees to adapt to the new environment that they would be facing in Germany. The whole educational experience resulted in a 90% German language passing rate.

EDI-Staffbuilders has been a pioneer in nontraditional countries as OFW destinations, such as those in Central Europe where the demographic crisis is as severe as in East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. For example, in 2015 the company ventured into the Czech Republic by recruiting for a manufacturing company engaged in IT peripherals in which Filipino workers grew to as many as 600. This was an important breakthrough because up to then, the Czech Republic recruited workers mostly from Ukraine, Slovakia, Mongolia and other countries in the periphery of the country. Thanks to the efforts of EDI-Staffbuilders, in cooperation with then Charge d’affairs Juan E. Dayang, Jr. of the Philippine embassy in Prague, the Czech Republic launched the Filipiniski program which identified the Philippines as a new source for workers and approved 1,000 working visas annually for Filipinos. Today, the Czech Republic has employed more than 3,000 OFWs and counting. This diversification into new markets led by EDI-Staffbuilders will be able to tap an estimated demand for as many as 100,000 workers for the healthcare, manufacturing, engineering, information technology, hospitality and services sectors in the next five to 15 years.

This specific example of a leading human resource and international recruiting company in the Philippines was meant to illustrate what will be the effective means of deploying Filipino workers all over the depopulating world (practically all the developed countries) way into the future, even as the Philippines itself should attain First World status.

Of course, my assumption is that Philippine culture will always give the highest priority to values related to what our Constitution states as the “inviolability of marriage as an institution” and the family as the foundation of society. These values are especially nurtured by the Christian faith of the majority of Filipinos. The retention and nurturing of such values will prevent our succumbing to the anti-life and anti-family culture that is so prevalent in the developed countries. These are also the same values that will keep our fertility rate close to replacement level of 2.1 per fertile woman and thus guarantee that we will continue to have a growing and relatively young population, avoiding the scourge of rapid ageing that is the very reason why countries like Japan, Germany, Spain, Finland, Austria and many others will continue to depend on our workers to enable them to sustain a high standard of living as they are unable to reverse their extremely low fertility rate.

Truly indeed, as we reach the level of a high-income economy, we will still see a significant exodus of our workers to numerous countries all over the world. Such an outflow of Filipino workers will no longer be motivated by extreme poverty but by individual Filipinos who will be exercising their inalienable human right to decide where to live and die. We can only hope that a good number of them will still decide to come back to the Philippines upon their retirement to spend the rest of their lives in what by then will already by a First World country but still retaining the pro-family and pro-life culture mandated by our Constitution.

Bernardo M. Villegas has a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard, is professor emeritus at the University of Asia and the Pacific, and a visiting professor at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.


Neil Banzuelo

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