For many years, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have endured being away from their families, living under different cultures and legal systems, so they could earn enough to live decently and send their children to school.
The foreign currencies they remit, which in 2006 reached almost $13 B, have uplifted many families, as well as helped stabilize our economic relations with the rest of the world.
Yet many OFWs still find it difficult to return for good. Many are ambivalent about settling back in the Philippines. And while some have managed to distinguish themselves and are raring to contribute to their communities, not too many have found meaningful opportunities to give back to their source community.
It is time to take the Philippine overseas employment program to a higher level. While we have one of the best overseas employment programs, we still need to maximize the benefits of overseas employment for the worker, his family, community and country. Building on past reintegration efforts, we should systematically gain more from the new attitude, skills, knowledge, assets and technologies of our migrant workers to promote brain gain and drive the economy forward to a higher plane.
National Reintegration Center for OFWs
Thus, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs shall work to optimize the benefits of overseas employment for OFWs, their families, communities and country. With the help of the Center, their investible assets, skills and goodwill for communities could be channeled to better uses. It shall be a one-stop shop and networking hub of reintegration services for OFWs.
The three-fold thrust of the center’s reintegration programs and services are: personal, community and economic. Each thrust seeks to re-establish OFW’s ties – with his own values, family, community and country. Organizational units of the Center shall spearhead their pursuit. Yet servicing shall follow the DOLE – adopted Single Agency Approach, which requires agencies and bureaus represented at the Center to deliver a unified package of reintegration services to OFWs and their families. The Center may likewise link up the OFW to other government agencies and private cooperating stakeholders based on the same approach.
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES:
1. OFW Counseling Services
GUIDE OFWs and their families on values formation and preparing for eventual reintegration. Services include: choosing re-etry options such as employment and livelihood, financial and investment opportunities; participating in brain-gain initiatives and retirement programs, sharing their expertise as part of their social and economic commitments in their respective communities.
2. OFW Capability Enhancement Services
EQUIP OFWs and their families with knowledge/skills in their desired re-entry options toward their personal, economic and community reintegration.
Services include: Provision for free skills training, upgrading and retooling to enhance the employability of Filipino expatriate-returnees and free entrepreneurial training for those who want to venture into business.
Job search assistance for Filipino expatriates who wants to remain in wage employment in local and overseas conpanies. Provision for temporary/emergency employment to Filipino expatriates while they are in the process of looking for more permanent and stable.
To deliver our services efficiently, the Reintegration Center will have an Assistance Desk to provide face-to-face as well as on-line answers to queries of OFWs. After evaluating their needs, the Assistance Desk shall refer them to the appropriate Unit or service provider which shall assure delivery of needed assistance, based on the following menu of services:
Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development
Training and Re-tooling Assistance
Brain Gain Movement Initiatives
LGU, Community, and NGO Linkages
Special Retirement Program
Special Remittance Package
Advocacy and Information Programs as a Stepping Stone to Family Circles