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Rehired OFWs corner nearly all work contracts

CONTRACTS for overseas work over a five-year period benefited more rehired land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), government data showed.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) five-year data also revealed that last year, the number of rehired land-based OFWs reached a five-year high of 597,426, from 419,505 in 2004.

Data further showed that on average, rehired land-based migrant workers made up nearly 46% of total of deployed land- and sea-based OFWs.

POEA’s 2008 Statistical Compendium, uploaded to the agency’s Web site only last month, said the country deployed last year a record 1.2 million OFWs.

Rehired land-based OFWs are those who returned to the country and were deployed overseas on new contracts. Four years ago, their share in the total 933,566 deployed overseas was only at nearly 45% (419,505).

Newly hired land-based OFWs consistently made up 30% of annual OFW deployment.

Newly hired workers deployed means the POEA has provided new jobs for would-be overseas workers, as securing jobs for overseas employment is part of the Arroyo government’s strategy to generate one million new jobs for Filipinos every year since 2004.

The POEA deployed 284,912 newly hired land-based OFWs in 2004.

The number grew by 32% to 376,973 last year.

Meanwhile, the number of seafarers has been decreasing in the last two years, even as the figure reached a high of 274,497 in 2006.

Over the five-year span, deployed seafarers accounted for a quarter of total OFW deployment.

Rehired land-based OFWs also represent the most number of overseas work contracts processed by the POEA from 2006 to 2008, the agency’s data revealed.

Compared to the overseas work contracts processed by the POEA for newly hired land-based OFWs and seafarers, rehires got almost all of the processed work contracts.

Processed work contracts for rehires accounted for nearly a hundred percent (96.09%) or 470,390 of the total 489,528 contracts three years ago. It dipped in 2007 but went back up to nearly 98% last year (or 597,426 of 610,561 work contracts).

Rehires seem to have elbowed out new hires from the job market in 2006 as only 81.97% of the latter got contracts from the 387,533 new overseas work contracts made available for them that year. However, contracts for newly hired OFWs last year logged a higher processing approval. Nearly 95% of the total 394,977 new work contracts were secured by new hires.

Many work contracts for seafarers, however, remain vacant. Some 80,832 seafarers’ work contracts were unfilled in 2006. The figure reached 123,054 the year after and to 197,143 last year. Still, the country supplies the most number of seafarers in the world, with a quarter of the global total.

The POEA said it processed more than 1.2 million work contracts for land- and sea-based jobs in 2006. The number rose by just above a hundred thousand in 2007, and to nearly 1.5 million work contracts last year.

Still, there were contracts that were not filled: 162,823 in 2006, 228,254 in 2007; and, 228,282 in 2008.

Year-on-year growth rates for deployment reached their highest in 2008 for both new hires and rehired land-based OFWs (20.34% and 20.01%, respectively), as the decline in seafarers’ deployment is now on its second straight year. — Jeremaiah F. Opiniano, OFW Journalism Consortium

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