CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Using professional skills in another country

HONG KONG (SE): Over 300 people attended an information afternoon on alternative employment in other countries for teachers, nurses and other allied professionals who are working in Hong Kong as migrant domestic workers.

The information afternoon was organised by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Hong Kong and held at Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town on October 9.

Representatives from Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Middle East spoke of job opportunities that are available in their countries for people with professional qualifications.

The labour attaché from the Philippine Consulate General, Jalilo Dela Torre, told the Sunday Examiner, “We organised it as part of our campaign to offer more decent alternative employment for our teachers, nurses and midwives, who are employed in Hong Kong.”

The big advantage that the jobs in other countries have over domestic work in Hong Kong is that they offer a career path, as well as the opportunity of using professional skills that were gained with much sweat and study and are simply rusting in Hong Kong kitchens.

Dela Torre said that he believes the afternoon was a success, as those who attended the information afternoon got a good overview of what is available in other countries for people with their professional skills.

A group of teachers agreed. At the conclusion of the day, they spoke enthusiastically about what they had learned, even though they found the whole prospect a little bit daunting.

They had listened to a presentation on looking for work as a teacher in Australia and the group made up of teachers of home economics, information technology, mathematics and English said they found the prospect extremely attractive.

However, as one pointed out, “There are many hurdles to overcome.” However, she was relieved to hear that the first step can be carried out from Hong Kong, as an initial requirement for teachers and nurses is an adequate score in the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examination.

There are several outlets, including the British Council, in Hong Kong that conduct this test on a regular basis.

The group of teachers said that they would follow this up first, as it is impossible to move further with the process until an adequate pass rate has been attained.

They said that in addition to the language requirement they also heard from an Australian representative about the country’s independent skilled migration scheme, the Employer Nominated Scheme and the Regional Skilled Migration Scheme.

The initial move, if the IELTS qualification is acceptable, can also be begun in Hong Kong for the independent skilled pathway by contacting and engaging a registered migration agent based in Australia.

Dela Torre pointed out that an application for a temporary visa for Australia (or any country) must also be processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, but in the case of permanent migration through the Employer Nominated Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, this procedure is not necessary, as the person becomes a permanent resident of the recruiting country.

In the case of Australia, a permanent resident can become a citizen after four years residency, subject to approval. People with permanent residency also receive medical benefits and qualify for most social services.

The opportunity is a lot closer to the original intention of the labour export practice of the Philippine government.

Imee Marcos said at a press conference in the early 2000s in Hong Kong that the original intention of her father was for people with professional qualifications to have the opportunity to work overseas, although the matter of remittances was foremost in his mind.

However, remittances are not in the mind of the Philippine Overseas Labour Organisation, but simply promoting the right of citizens to free movement in seeking a better life.

The information afternoon was not for recruiting, as this is against third-country deployment regulations, but was purely to provide information about opportunities that exist. There was no charge.

The group of teachers said that it is exciting to know that the process can be begun without returning home and they were keen to follow up on what they had learned.

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