Have you ever dreamed of working abroad? Many get attracted to work overseas, either as a white collar professional or as a skilled worker, because of the high salary they are offered. Some go abroad because of the “better opportunities” other countries offer.
Finding Work abroad for OFW aspirants
Finding work abroad is easier than you realize – With the increasing number of in-demand jobs in factory work, sales and accounting, nursing, entertainment, engineering, and technology, getting a job abroad is only a matter of being handed the right information, diligently doing your research, and finding the job that best suits you.
There is an estimated 10.5 million overseas Filipinos spread all over the world. Although unemployment is no longer as bad in the Philippines, it is still evident that the estimated 94.01 percent of the population leaving abroad will continue to rise. Despite the boom of the BPO industry in the country, people are still looking for greener pastures.
Reasons Why Filipinos Work Overseas
There are many reasons why Filipinos work abroad. Whether it’s their first choice or just forced to do so. Leaving the country means detachment from family members and being contented with long distance calls, SMS or instant messaging conversations. It also means depriving oneself of guiding children and watch them grow. Missing favorite TV shows, going to family hangouts on weekends and many other things are sacrificed in exchanges of life abroad. ” Then why do they do it?”
- Low salary offered by local companies: The single biggest reason why Filipinos are willing to go abroad for work is the generally low salary offered by employers in the Philippines. Even jobs that are sought after and in demand in certain parts of the world like nurses, engineers and teachers are paid poorly. No wonder many would prefer to work abroad as domestic helpers or office clerks and leave their teaching jobs because they’ll get paid higher overseas.
- Unstable economic situation: There is a longstanding lack of confidence in the government’s effort to secure a better future for its citizens may have driven many Filipinos to seek employment overseas. Corruption, gross inefficiency in government functions, relatively high tax rate, and no sound fiscal policy has put a damper on hopes of an ambitious Filipino, who now thinks the grass is greener elsewhere but home.
- High unemployment rate: Perennial high unemployment rate has been a chronic problem in a country that produces almost a million college graduates on courses that are deemed popular but whose demand is on decline. Fresh graduates join the labor force, thereby increasing the competition for jobs available.
- Contractual employment arrangement: The high unemployment rate in the country brings due advantage to employers who simply hire people on contractual basis. From mall sales ladies to fast food servers, the practice is widespread in the country. This brings a great deal of job insecurity for those who are employed under such conditions. Filipinos inherently don’t mind receiving basic salary, as long as there is security of tenure. However, such type of work arrangement is hard to find for many sectors, knowing that the supply of workers always outstrip the demand for their services.
- Poor benefits: Local employers prefer to contractual employees because it is easier to let go of them and — a labor loophole in the country — no health benefits and accident insurance coverage necessary. High unemployment rate ensures a steady flow of applicants, no matter how lame the job offer is. Such unfair situation keeps employers happy almost all the time.
- OFWs are now more pampered: Believe it or not, OFWs are now covered by better protection, offered advantages (hotel offers only valid to OFWs, special lanes for overseas workers at airport and discounted health insurance premiums to name a few) in addition to being heralded as the nation’s new breed of heroes. Heroes in the coffers of the country, pumping in billions worth of remittance dollars.
- It’s not so lonely to go abroad anymore: Before, going overseas is like sentencing oneself into exile into a hostile land. No friends around, will need to deal with unfamiliar language, weather and food. But now times have changed, many overseas Filipino communities have mushroomed all over the world: Tokyo, Barcelona, Sydney, Dubai, Singapore, New York and more. Cultural programs, tours of Filipino entertainers have brought the overseas Filipino workers closer to home. Not to mention the cheaper long distance rates and availability of the web to communicate with loved ones.
- Discrimination in job hiring: This is a sad fact that local job applicants have to deal with. Again this has something to do with the glut of available workers willing to get paid lower salaries and not enjoy benefits and paid holidays. Employers tend to pick the “best” candidates but they’re not necessarily the most qualified for the jobs. They are usually those aged between 21 and 30, graduates of schools like University of the Philippines or Ateneo de Manila, and are at least five foot tall for women, even if the job nature don’t require them. The process leaves qualified but overage applicants in the dark and decide to go… abroad!
Challenges of a Migrant Worker
- Cultural Adjustments – customs and traditions of the host country may be new to you. Difficulty in understanding a foreign language, local norms and practices may be different to the one you are accustomed to, the predominant religion is different from your own; the manner of dressing and social etiquette are different from your own.
- Physical Adjustments – there are differences in the climate, dwelling areas, time difference, topography, distance of workplace to lodging, food, recreational options from what you are accustomed to.
- Workplace Adjustments – there are differences in work ethic, management, culture and practices, technological facilities from what you are used to.
- Homesickness – missing those who are left behind, typically: family members, friends, peer groups; a migrant may also miss the following: his/her houses, the neighbor, food from his/her locality, the recreational activities he/she used to do, the religious and cultural festivities he/she traditionally participates in, the different forms of entertainment available to him/her.
- Crisis Situations – employer-employee disputes, sickness, injury, accident, cultural conflict, natural disasters, wars, epidemic, prevalence of crimes, involvement in or accusation of crimes, physical, verbal or sexual abuse, employment contract violations, company closures, mergers, retrenchments, incidences of runaways, illegal recruitment, trafficking, irregular migration, deportation.
- Crisis in the Family – risk of having a broken family, possibility of family’s over-dependence on OFW’s remittances, possibility of infidelity of the OFW’s spouse during the latter’s absence, other potential consequences of a parent being absent during a child’s formative years.
OFW’s Preparation Guide before going Abroad
Leaving home to work abroad, however, is not a simple and straightforward process. Aside from the usual recruitment procedures that an OFW hopeful must go through, there are plenty of preparations that must be done.
- Attend PEOS – The Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) is conducted by the POEA in the main office or at the POEA regional offices.
- Submission of Application and Requirements – Submit application form and all the requirements being asked from you. The basic required documents are: personal data sheets, transcript of records, high school and college diplomas, certificate(s) of employment, board certificate(s), training and trade certificates (if applicable), passport, and 2″x2″ pictures.
- Undergo Preliminary Interview and Evaluation – You may have to attend a pre-application orientation being conducted by the concerned recruiter/local agent so you can be informed of the details of the employment offer. If you meet the minimum qualifications of the job, you will be asked to undergo testing and/or interviews among other screening procedures.
- Undergo Medical and Trade Testing – If selected, you will be instructed to proceed to an accredited medical clinic for basic medical examination and to any TESDA-accredited testing centers, if necessary, to ensure that you are fit to work.
- Discussion of the Terms and Conditions of Employment and Signing of Contract – When you pass the medical exam and trade testing, you will be asked to sign an employment contract. REMEMBER, before signing a contract, read and study first all the provisions. Do not sign the contract, nor pay any fee unless you have fully understood and agreed to the indicated terms and conditions. Always demand for a receipt once a payment is made.
- Processing of your documents with the POEA and concerned embassies or entities – Your agency will now proceed to process your documents with the following entities:
- Concerned Foreign Embassy – Visa issuance/stamping
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) – for registration and documentation of employment contracts as well as issuance of e-Receipt or Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC)
- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – if certain documents need translation and authentication (e.g. employment contract written wholly in the foreign language)
- Concerned AIRLINE – for issuance of booking certificates or Pre-paid Ticket Advice (PTA)
- Attendance to PDOS – You should undergo a compulsory Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) before leaving the country.
- Validation and departure at the airport – You should proceed at the POEA-Labor Assistance Center and have required documents validated before attending to other airport procedures.
Comply with the Paperwork
Have a valid passport. It is only after they have been accepted for a job that a visa will be filed for entry purposes. Other documents that applicants must comply with, depends on the requirements of the POEA or the manpower agency that an aspiring OFW is connected. It is vital that all paperwork is taken care of before any placement fees are paid or any amount of packing should be done. Documents must be completed for legal and security reasons.
The pre-employment orientation seminar (PDOS) is not offered to everyone. Again, this depends on the recruitment process. Most workers who went through agencies and the POEA must undergo PDOS.
Comply with Medical Examination Requirements
Medical exams vary, depending on what are required by the host country. When workers are bound for the Gulf region, for example, they must be tested for various diseases to rule out possible infections. Medical exams usually have two phases: Laboratory, and physical and psychological examination.
Stay Healthy Prior to Departure
Since workers must undergo medical exams they need to stay healthy before they leave. When health problems show up during the exams, OFWs can always seek a doctor’s advice on how to pass the exam and be fit enough to work abroad.
Due to the luggage weight restrictions at the airport, it’s best to pack right and light. There should be clothes suitable for various seasons in the host country, especially if the possibility of buying a new wardrobe is slim. Medications for various ailments should be packed, particularly for common diseases or for other pre-existing health conditions.
Most importantly, workers must prepare mentally for the challenges ahead.