Inter-agency, updated OFW database needed

OVERSEAS Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) recommends strong data linkages of concerned government agencies with regards Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to better implement reintegration programs and assistance by the government.

Owwa-Davao Regional Director Eduardo Bellido, during the reintegration consultation at Grand Regal Hotel last Thursday, April 20, said the government should have a collective data about the basic information of the returning migrants, most especially the skills they have, the reasons why they went back to the Philippines, and what type of help they needed to be provided of.

“We need to understand the main characteristics of the returnees and what influenced their decision to come back,” he said.

One of the challenges Owwa sees regarding the government’s reaching out to the returning OFWs and their families is the government’s lack of mechanisms for systematic collection of data.

According to the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, there are no detailed and updated data of how many OFWs exactly are working abroad.

Bellido said that the short-sightedness and the shortened planning of the government is also one contributing factor why the interventions initiated by government are oftentimes only limited to livelihood assistance.

“What we need is a long-range planning in terms of providing reintegration interventions to our returning workers. When an OFW comes home, we tell them to do a livelihood project because that’s the only available option to go into. But if we have a long-range planning about intervention, we can respond appropriately to the needs of the OFWs,” he added.

He also acknowledged that not all returning OFWs are fit to run a business. For this, he suggested that the data the different government agencies would come up with should contain the skills acquired abroad by the OFW which they might be able to use here in the country for local employment.

“Not all returning OFWs can be businessmen. Let’s admit the fact that they are not cut out as entrepreneurs. Others can be into local employment. But we cannot force them to engage in entrepreneurial endeavor which they are not cut out for,” he said.

Bellido also suggested that there should be an inventory of skills of OFWs to better implement job-matching for local employment in coordination with the Public Employment Service Office.

Bellido recommends this can be achieved through household surveys for data banking.