MANILA, Philippines - This is a would-be OFW's dream: to be able to work abroad, without having to pay for the infamously high placement fees that usually stand between Filipinos and what they believe to be a bright future away from the country.
South Korea has offered an additional 6,000 more slots for OFWs in the factory-based sector, bringing to 10,000 the total new job offers to Filipinos for this year alone.
The good news, however, is not just in the numbers, but in the fact that these 10,000 OFWs will not need to pay a single peso as placement fee.
The deal with South Korea is government-to-government, meaning all those who wish to apply need not pass through employment agencies.
The only catch is that aside from the skills needed to do the job, all applicants need to be proficient in the Korean language, in written, spoken, and aural aspects.
Last Sunday, more than 10,000 aspirants in various testing sites all over the country took a second proficiency test in Korean.
Nino Clerigo is one of them. He recalls how hard it was to learn a language completely different from his own.
In the name of a future he wishes to have in South Korea, he enrolled in a language class and studied in his free time. "It almost made me give up at the start. It was so hard, but I got the hang of it. I really want to work in Korea, because there's no placement fee."
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), meanwhile, is encouraging OFWs to try it out in South Korea.
Aside from the lack of placement fees, they say the government-to-government set-up creates a greater safeguard for the welfare of Filipinos.
"Of course, you must first learn the language before you can function well there," explains director Joy Sanchez of the POEA Welfare and Employment Office.
Sanchez adds that historically, South Korea pays more for the same factory work compared to other countries. A first-time factory worker can earn as much as P30,000 to P40,000 a month working there.