THE job losses to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic will only be between 50,000 and 100,000, and not the 400,000 projected by private economists, according to an expert in overseas recruitment and migration policies.
The basis for the lower job loss forecast: the massive economic stimulus programs of destination countries, as the world recovers from the pandemic, will require participation of migrant workers who are skilled professionals, like engineers and healthcare workers, as well as experienced support staff. Many OFWs fall in these categories, said Lito Soriano, president of Recruitment Solutions.
Because of this, Soriano said the Philippine government “should adopt measures to help save OFW jobs by communicating with host countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan and other top employer-nations of OFWs.”
Soriano said the massive loss of 400,000 jobs predicted by the Ateneo Center for Economic Research Director Alvin Ang and Institute for Migration and Development Issues Executive director Jeremiah Opiniano – a forecast parallel with that of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Joey Salceda, is highly improbable.
Actually, Ang and Opiniano had projected the job loss figure as arising, not just from the Covid-19 fallout, but also from the impact of plunging oil prices on key Middle Eastern economies, which hire many OFWs and might be constrained to lay off migrant workers by the thousands.
Soriano, meanwhile also deems off the mark their [Ang-Opiniano and Salceda] probable losses in dollar remittances of from $3 billion to $6 billion. He estimates that it will be less than $3 billion by the end of the year 2020, “a 10-percent decline from the $30 billion remittance in 2019.”
Soriano noted: “Millions of household service staff, factory workers and production workers will experience lesser job losses as they are the most resilient skills as observed during the 2008-2010 Global Financial crisis.” Soriano said.
He added that most of the job losses may come from the manning sector, which employ an estimated 460,000 Filipino seafarers.
“Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar employ hundreds of thousands of Filipino in critical sectors of the economies like banking, retail, services manufacturing, agriculture, heavy industries, aviation and oil industry.
“These OFWs would be badly needed by these countries in a post-Covid scenario,” Soriano said.
These countries, he pointed out, “will rely heavily on OFWs to jumpstart their economies together with the enormous inputs of billions of dollars that the Middle East countries are preparing to prop up their own economies.”
Soriano predicted that after the Covid-19 crisis, the world will see the economic emergence of China, India and African nations (CIAs), including Japan.
The household service sector, Soriano added, has been the most resilient labor sector – it has not been affected by internal conflicts or economic downturns for the past 15 years, he claimed.
“The expanding middle class economies in the Middle East would still be depending on the household services from the Philippines,” be added.
Recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani shared Soriano’s observation that Middle East countries cannot afford massive job cuts in critical sectors of their economies
“Migrant workers in the Middle East play an important role in their economies, such that in the UAE, migrant workers are 85 percent of the population; in Qatar 75 percent, Kuwait 60 percent, Oman, 45 percent and Saudi Arabia 40 percent of their respective populations.”
Geslani said, “The heavy reliance of Middle East countries on migrant workers prevents them from cutting jobs at a large scale as it may be difficult for them to rebound from the economic crisis of Covid-19 coupled with very low crude oil prices.”
Image credits: DFA Photo