DOLE and POEA officials are joined by Phil Cooper of World Changing and Scott Mathieson of Working IN in a forum in Manila
MANILA - Thousands of job opportunities are expected to become available for skilled Filipino workers in New Zealand.
"The next six years, we are looking at 30,000 job opportunities in New Zealand, primarily sa construction sector ito," said Jun Macas, president of Australia and New Zealand Association of Employment Providers of the Philippines (ANZAEPP).
Macas clarified that the 30,000 jobs are not entirely for Filipino workers.
"Our goal is to get that big chunk of the 30,000 for the Filipinos," he said during a business conference with the theme "Building Bridges, Bridging Lives, Living Dreams" hosted with their New Zealand partners on Thursday.
The workers will be needed for various reconstruction projects in Christchurch that was severely damaged by a strong earthquake in 2011.
A secured employment is not the only opportunity in New Zealand.
"New Zealand has superior protection mechanism for expat workers compared to other countries. The income opportunity is higher compared to other countries. NZ$18/hour that's the minimum wage," Macas said.
But that's not all.
Macas said that after three years of working in New Zealand, the worker now has the option to apply for permanent residency.
"They can bring their families to New Zealand so they can be reunited," he said.
This was also echoed by Kurt Reed of AWF Trades where many Filipinos are currently under their employ.
Reed said many of the Pinoy workers are inclined to apply for permanent residency and bring their families over to New Zealand, noting that "It must be so hard working away from them."
He said Filipinos are hardworking, productive, and with good English skills and technical skills. This is why New Zealand businesses hire Filipino workers.
"Between 2020 there will be a significant, overall demand," he said.
According to Liberty Casco, deputy administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), New Zealand is becoming an attractive labor market for Filipino skilled workers and professionals.
"New Zealand could very well be one of the better labor markets for Filipino workers worldwide, given its highly developed labor and immigration policies that are protective of foreign workers," Casco said.
Based on the 2013 stock estimates of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DAF), there are about 34,150 overseas Filipinos in New Zealand. Of this number, 23,682 are permanent migrants, 9,444 are temporary workers, and 1,024 irregular workers.
Data from the POEA also shows that New Zealand has registered an increasing trend in the number of deployed Filipino workers.
"From an annual average of 1,000 Filipino workers deployed to New Zealand for the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, the deployment of Filipino workers rose to an average of 2,000 Filipino workers for the period of 2010 to 2014. In 2014, deployment of OFWs to New Zealand totaled 3,068 workers which is a 29% increase over the 2013 level," she said.
ANZAEPP said Filipinos already outnumber other foreign workers in New Zealand. Citing a spokesperson of New Zealand Immigration, the group said that an estimated 15,300 temporary work visas were granted to OFWs between 2012 to 2014.
Another factor that leads many skilled OFWs to New Zealand is the strict implementation of the "no placement fee policy."
"We are happy to note that New Zealand also has a no placement policy," Casco said.
Casco was referring to the New Zealand Wages and Protection Act of 1983 that prohibits the charging if premiums from workers for employment.
"To complement this policy, the POEA recently issued memorandum circular No. 09, Series of 2014 prohibiting Philippine licensed recruitment agencies recruiting, hiring and deploying Filipino workers to New Zealand from charging and collecting recruitment and placement fee from the said workers," she said.
The POEA's ultimate goal, Casco added, is to adopt a no placement fee policy for all OFWs worldwide.
"A worker who is not charged a placement fee is in a better position to be able to contribute productively to the job because they are not worrying about loans to pay and it will redound to the benefits of the workers' welfare," she said.
The Department of Labor and Employment hopes that Filipino workers deployed abroad will give back to the country in the future.
"The long term goal is to make sure that whatever they experienced, skills they have learned outside the Philippines, will redound to the benefit of the country, the economy, certain sectors and industries and of course, their families," said DOLE Assistant Secretary Katherine Brimon.