Employment assistance to be strengthened

A serious bid to reinforce hands-on employment assistance for Ilocano job-seekers, overseas Ilocanos and returnees was raised on November 20 by Governor Imee R. Marcos during a meeting with the municipal mayors of the province and representatives from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall, Provincial Capitol, Laoag City, the call was made in line with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between and among the officials of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, the local government units and POEA, aiming to establish an information campaign against illegal recruitment, recruitment violators and human trafficking.

“By information dissemination, we can save a lot of lives…It is the LGU’s mandate to protect its constituents, and the POEA’s mandate to protect [job] applicants and at the same time OFWs from abuse,” said Deputy Administrator Jesus Gabriel Domingo, the signatory for POEA. The MOU also aims to reaches out to the grassroots level.

On the other hand, Governor Imee who earlier conducted her flagship program, “Manang Imee’s Capitol Express” in Nueva Era said:
“We are proud to say that here in the province, there have been little incident of illegal recruitment…Habang nandito ako sa Ilocos Norte, isang insidente ng illegal recruitment pa lamang ang nangyayari,” Governor Imee said, pinpointing that information dissemination is already widespread among localities.

She in turn cited schemes relevant to the existing problems in Ilocos Norte like inviting “good employers” to the province who can bring Ilocanos overseas.

“Ikalawa ay tulong para sa training dahil napakahilig ng Ilocano na mag-aral sa universities. We need a more market-driven training approach,” she said, citing that there are more job openings which require skilled manual workers like “welders and aluminum fitters” than white-collar professionals.

“This is the real challenge that we change the minds not only of the students but also of their parents that in fact vocational and skills [jobs] are in demand,” Governor Imee said.

She also raised the issue of the high number of Ilocanos working abroad, saying that “61% of all families receive foreign aid.” According to her, many overseas Ilocanos have already returned and the challenge lies on how to convert this people “who are employees all their lives” to entrepreneurship.

In terms of overseas recruitment issues, she said, “It’s no longer just information dissemination but closer ties and cooperation with prosecution and justice…Tulong kung may kakulangan sa papeles, sa pag-iintindi ng batas at higit sa lahat tulong sa lahat ng nabibiktima ng illegal recruitment,” Governor Imee concluded.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO