Problem hiring teachers? Try tapping the huge Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) pool.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto suggested this to the Department of Education (DepEd) after it admitted in a report to the Senate that it has yet to hire one teacher from the 39,066 slots it was authorized to fill this year.
Recto said the same approach of scouting for possible hires among OFWs should be used by the government in filling the estimated 188,255 job vacancies in the bureaucracy.
To attract OFWs who may want to return to the country and join the civil service, our embassies should start “posting ‘help wanted’ ads” in consular offices.
“Ang gobyerno may year-round job fair. It is still the country’s biggest employer. It is the number one job recruiter. Kung ganun, dapat nilang isama ang OFWs sa mga job fairs na ito,” Recto said.
Recto admitted though that job opportunities in the public sector are not at a volume that can trigger a mass exodus back home.
“Yes, it makes a little dent. Pero doon sa gustong bumalik, na qualified naman, at gusto mag-stay for good sa kanilang hometown na para naman matirhan ang bahay na matagal nilang pinaghirapan ipundar, magandang i-offer ang ganitong trabaho kesa sa wala,” Recto said.
Recto cited “one notable program” of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which can be “used as a template” in attracting OFWs to apply for government jobs.
He was referring to DOLE’s “Sa ‘Pinas Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir” project which helps OFWs with degrees in education or who had teaching experience to re-enter the teaching profession by landing jobs at DepEd..
As of March this year, the project has been able to refer 334 OFWs to DepEd for possible placement.
Initiated by DOLE and launched in the last quarter of 2014, it is a convergence project of DOLE, DepEd, and the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).
Among the project’s services is an online refresher course for OFWs who are Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) passers.
“Itong mga LET passers, kung gusto nilang mag-balik-turo, dapat tulungan ng pamahalaan. I would even suggest that of the thousands of teachers government hires a year, a quota must be reserved for them,” Recto said.
For this year, DepEd was given P9.35 billion to fund the first-year salary of 39,066 newly-created teaching positions, but not one teacher has been recruited in time for school opening last June 2.
In fact, as of last May, DepEd was still processing the appointment papers of about 1,800 teachers who will occupy positions created in 2014, Recto said.
Those in DepEd represent the biggest chunk of job vacancies in government today, based on the “Staffing Summary”, a Department of Budget and Management (DBM) document which tallies “filled and unfilled permanent” positions in the government.
For 2015, there are a total of 1,433,186 permanent and funded positions, of which 1,244,931 are filled.
Amounts for the salaries of the “unfilled positions” are parked in the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund in the national budget and which will be released only to an agency once it has made the recruitment.
But Recto explained that not all positions will be filled as some of these are deemed not needed or urgent at the moment.
Those in frontline agencies or offices with critical functions, like the Department of Health (DOH) or the Philippine National Police (PNP), “must be occupied by a warm body, in the interest of public service.”
The DOH has 11,166 vacancies while the PNP has 15,592 for uniformed personnel.
“Yung sa DPWH, they need about 1,300 civil engineers. And they’re having a hard time recruiting. So kung merong OFW na gustong umuwi at makontento sa di malaking sweldo pero ang benefit naman ay kasama mo pamilya mo, pwedeng nilang subukan ang pumasok sa gobyerno,” Recto said.