Message of support at the #WOMENOFWSCANDOIT 2021 Training Induction Programme (TIP) for women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)

By Ms Ma. Concepcion Sardaña, Senior Programme Officer on behalf of Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the #WOMENOFWSCANDOIT 2021 Training Induction Programme (TIP) for women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), 23 April 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 23 April 2021
  • TESDA Secretary Isidro S. Lapeña
  • OWWA Deputy Administrator Faustino L. Sabarez III
  • Regional Director Florencio Sunico and Miss Nina Dodd of TESDA NCR
  • Mr Dennis Cabato of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs
  • My colleagues from the ILO led by Ms Lites Viloria and Mr Rex Varona
  • Partner technical-vocational schools and institutions
  • Scholars of our 2021 women OFW scholarship programme;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po (good afternoon)!
On behalf of Mr Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, let me congratulate those responsible and involved in this very timely and innovative partnership for our women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We acknowledge with much appreciation the strong collaboration of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), particularly its National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Office, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, the ILO Women in STEM Programme, and the ILO-UN Women Safe and Fair programme.

This collaboration is timely, innovative and gender-responsive because it addresses the urgent skills development, employment and reintegration needs of some of the more than 270,000 women OFWs who have been displaced and repatriated back to the Philippines due to COVID. Women comprise almost 47 per cent of the total repatriated OFWs as of 15 March 2021.1

This initiative brings together the work of the ILO in ending violence and labour exploitation, and promoting reskilling/upskilling of women and OFWs; supporting the communities of OFWs and their families served by OWWA and NRCO both in the Philippines and abroad; and promoting the scholarships and TVET courses of TESDA and numerous technical-vocational institutions (TVI’s) for the women OFWs.

We are glad to note that once the women OFWs earn their National Certificates, they will be linked to the reintegration programmes of NRCO and other government agencies and, later on, with employers, the private sector and local governments. Thus, a concrete pathway for return/reintegration and access to jobs is created that directly benefits the women OFWs and their families.

This programme helps break the gender-stereotype by encouraging women and OFWs, including those in the domestic work, services, care giving and manufacturing sectors, to take up skills in information technology (IT); Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and in the digital/platform economy and emerging technologies. These skills will help expand women’s job opportunities in the time of the pandemic, and in the post-pandemic Future of Work.

Women and Technology

Today, the real stars of this programme, are the women who have successfully qualified for the 2021 scholarship programme. For some of you, getting into technology-based jobs may not have been your first choice as alternative to (or to complement) your work abroad. But the upheaval in the world of work and migration brought about by the pandemic could have changed your minds by now, with the shift to work from home, uncertainties of work abroad, and the mainstreaming of the digital and online platforms.

Even before the pandemic, the transition to the Future of Work as reported by the ILO in 2019 has been observed. Innovations at work such as Big Data, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence and robots are already having a transformative impact on the nature of work; the pandemic just accelerated these developments.

Based on a 2016 ILO study, around 49 per cent of jobs in the Philippines face high risk of automation. Because of the predominant deployment of women OFWs in lower paid and precarious jobs abroad, they face a higher risk of displacement due to these challenges in the local and overseas labor markets.

And that was before COVID. In the “new and better normal” after COVID, the changes in the job markets, both in the Philippines and abroad, will require that women and OFWs need to be agile and possess skills that can match the demands of the labor market.

This is emphasized in the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) of the Philippines, which identifies that one of the key priorities for the country is the creation of productive, remunerative, freely chosen, green and sustainable work opportunities for all Filipinos willing to work. This priority highlights the importance of responsive technical and vocational training programmes. Responsive technical and vocational training programmes need to focus on the development of skills and competencies that will prepare workers in the face of the rapidly changing demands of the future of work.

We hope that this partnership of TESDA, OWWA-NRCO and ILO, through the #WOMENOFWSCANDOIT scholarship, skills development, reintegration and job support programme, will provide one coherent and effective pathway to support women and OFWs in responding to the above challenges.

Our goal is to get more women interested, trained, employed and ready for the future of work. To develop the skills that will be needed for the future of work, we need to ensure that women get the tech skills and the STEM skills such as collaboration, creativity and critical thinking that will help women adapt to the fast changes of emerging technologies.

Today, for all of you scholars, you are one step closer to achieving this goal. We know that this was not a simple feat for all of you. Perhaps your journey to this day have been challenging, but you have survived.

We hope to see you in a few weeks’ time, as our 2021 TVET-certified graduates! Indeed, Women OFWs can do it!

Maraming salamat po!

1 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) data as of 15 March 2021; as presented by POEA at the Focus Group Discussion of migrant sector, 16 April 2021.