Malaysia requiring language test for foreign caregivers

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Sep 23 12:36:06 UTC 2005

We have an oversupply of idle caregivers
>>From the ABS CBN News - Philippines


  Despite the high demand for health workers overseas, many of our trained
caregivers have remained jobless. Out of 90,000 graduates from authorized
caregiver training centers, only five percent have found employment
abroad.  Despite the high demand for health workers overseas, many of our
trained caregivers have remained jobless. Out of 90,000 graduates from
authorized caregiver training centers, only five percent have found
employment abroad.

Dr. Nestor Laceda, president of the Caregiver Training Centers
Association, said one reason for this is the low-placement fee authorized
by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for recruiters. Under
a government policy, licensed recruitment agencies can collect a placement
fee equivalent to an overseas workers monthly salary plus P5,000. If a
caregivers salary is P60,000, he or she should pay P60,000 plus P5,000, or
a total of P65,000.

This is uncompetitive in the context of the ongoing practice in other
countries where caregivers pay the equivalent of their three-month salary
as placement fee. Why do they have to pay this much? Laceda explained that
much of it, which is approximately one-half of the total amount, goes to a
"broker" who supplies the employer as his "finders" fee. Only recruiters
who collect the equivalent of a three-month salary as placement fee can
compete in the employers market but they are liable for overcharging,
which can lead to the cancellation of their license, and for legal action
for illegal recruitment.

This is the practice in the recruitment of maids for Hong Kong and of
factory workers for Taiwan. Recruiters collect placement fees as much as
P80,000 from a prospective maid in Hong Kong and over P100,000 for a
factory worker in Taiwan. The monthly salary of these workers is about
P24,000. The high demand for caregivers overseas has been overpublicized,
leading to the proliferation of caregiver centers authorized by the
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Trainees pay
as much as P17,000 each for the course, excluding expenses for on-the-job
training at the Philippine National Red Cross.

Close to 1,000 caregiver training centers have been registered with TESDA,
but many "fly-by-night" centers have been operating and charging excessive
training fees. Thousands of trainees have finished the course but have
remained idle because the POEA and the private recruitment agencies cannot
find enough foreign employers for them. In a letter to President Arroyo,
Dr. Laceda asked for credit assistance by the Land Bank of the Philippines
to caregivers to help them pay their placement fees. He said the
deployment of these health workers will be beneficial to the economy in
the long term because of their remittances.  He explained that caregivers
are paid from P60,000 to P100,000 monthly, depending on where they are

He said caregivers in India are getting credit assistance from their
government, making it easy for them to find jobs abroad. This has
generated more jobs and increased workers remittances for their country.
What we actually need is a more aggressive marketing mission not only for
caregivers but all kinds of workers. India is beating us in the computer
market in the US because of its marketing operations. Let us scout for new
markets for our workers as our traditional markets have begun creating
hurdles for our OFWs as a requirement for their employment. South Korea,
for instance, has imposed a language test effective last September 1 for
Korea-bound foreign workers.

Under the new Korean requirement, applicants must be 18 to 38 years old, a
high-school graduate with work experience of at least three years or a
college graduate with one-year work experience, and with no record of
illegal stay in Korea. Those who do not possess these requirements cannot
take the language test and therefore have no chance to work in Korea. The
POEA is the implementing agency of the language test requirement in
cooperation with the International Korean Language Foundation, the
designated Korean test agency.

Only recently, Malaysia adopted a new labor policy requiring foreign
workers to take a similar language test. In addition, applicants must take
an induction course. The purpose of this requirement is to make
prospective foreign workers to understand the culture and laws of their
future host country.

Japan has also restricted the entry of our overseas performing artists
under its new immigration law which admits OPAs with either two-year
experience outside Japan in the kind of job they are applying for, or a
two-year formal course in singing, dancing or any related field to qualify
them for work in its entertainment industry.

The new policy has restricted the entry of OPAs to Japan, resulting in the
drastic decline of our workers population in that country.

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