Gov't urged: Develop foreign labor markets for nurses
MANILA, Philippines – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) pushed for an "aggressive" deployment of nurses overseas given the "large surplus" of nurses in the country.
"We would prefer the aggressive overseas deployment of nurses over the semi-skilled and unskilled workers, such as domestic helpers," TUCP president and former senator Ernesto Herrera said in a statement Thursday, May 29.
Herrera cited numbers from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration which said the country – "one of the world’s largest producers of English-speaking nurses" – sends an average of 12,000 nurses abroad annually.
About 85% of these-newly hired nurses are females, he noted. (READ: Where are the health workers?)
"There’s no question that the Philippines is now the globe’s single biggest supplier of foreign nurses. They are the leading group of professionals that we set out every year abroad, mainly to the Middle East," he said.
He said unlike domestic helpers who live with the employer and whose skills are "easier to replace," nurses are "less vulnerable to employer abuse because their skills are not easy to replace." (READ: Gov't eyeing new markets for Filipino nurses)
Based on POEA figures, Herrera said the country sends more newly-hired domestic helpers every year – an average of 97,000 or 8 times more than deployed nurses.
But he lamented many nurses remain "totally idle" or employed in professions irrelevant to nursing. (READ: You know you're a nurse when...)
Filipino nurses in US
He also noted only 860 "Philippine-educated nurses" took the United States’ National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the first time from January to March of 2014.
This is fewer compared to the 942 first-time takers during the same period in 2013. A total of 4,034 Filipino nurses took the exam for the first time in 2013.
NCLEX’s first-time takers, Herrera said, is considered a reliable indicator of how many Filipino nurses are trying to enter the profession in America.
"Nonetheless, we expect US employers to continue hiring highly-experienced Filipino nurses, though minimally, mainly to replace those who retire, or those who leave America in search of greener pastures," he said.
Other large groups of Filipino workers deployed abroad, according to Herrera, are the following:
- civil, mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineers
- composers, musicians, and singers
- artists and designers
- physiotherapists, and occupational therapists
- computer programmers