(STAR) By Des Ferriols - Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) surged by 36.7 percent in October, bringing the total inflow from January to October this year to $10.3 billion.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the October figure of $1.19 billion was the highest monthly inflow so far this year.

The 10-month inflow was 16.6 percent higher than a year ago level.

"This cumulative level is only about $2 billion less than the amount of remittances that is expected to be coursed through the banking system for the whole of 2006," the BSP said.

The BSP said the sustained expansion in remittances reflected the continuing strong demand for Filipino labor and the increasing use of remittance services in response to OFWs’ clamor for secure, timely and cost-efficient modes of transfer of funds to their beneficiaries.

The BSP said preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed an increase of 24.6 percent in total deployment to 89,543 in October.

The number of deployed land-based workers in October (at 66,029) was higher year-on-year by 33 percent while the number of deployed sea-based workers rose by 6 percent to 23,514.

On a cumulative basis, POEA report indicated that the total number of deployed Filipino workers for the 10-month period reached 962,025, 12.7 percent higher than last year’s level.

Classified by type of worker, the BSP said the cumulative number of both land-based and sea-based workers grew by 12.1 percent and 14.8 percent to reach 726,732 and 235,293, respectively.

"The major destination countries were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Kuwait, Taiwan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom," the BSP said.

This year, Filipinos deployed overseas were mostly skilled and professional workers, such as medical and healthcare personnel, food and hotel service staff, information technology personnel, engineers, performing artists and construction and manufacturing workers.

The BSP said OFWs have been taking advantage of domestic banks and non-banks whose services now include internet/on-line banking and phone banking.

The BSP said this broadened the types of services offered (such as bills payment arrangements), establishing more remittance centers and tie-ups abroad, and offering competitive service charges and conversion rates. The U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, the UAE, Singapore and Taiwan remained the major sources of Filipino worker remittances.

DOLE sets Spanish course for OFWs By Mayen Jaymalin The Philippine Star 12/16/2006

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has set a language training program to teach Spanish to aspiring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to meet the growing demand for Spanish-speaking workers in Spain.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said DOLE had forged an agreement with the Instituto Cervantes de Manila (ICM), the Spanish Embassy’s cultural arm, for the immediate implementation of the language training program.

"Without knowledge of the language and culture, there would be no jobs for Filipinos in Spain so we are offering a Spanish language and cultural course for qualified workers," Brion said.

Brion said both the DOLE and ICM agreed to conduct a language and cultural orientation so that Filipino workers would be equipped to work in Spain.

"With the help of the ICM, we hope to successfully train Filipino workers to speak the Spanish language that would enable them to land in jobs abroad or even in call centers here," Brion said.

Brion said that with the language training, the OFWs will have adequate protection from illegal recruiters and other unscrupulous individuals, who are preying on unsuspecting workers.

He said the department is having difficulty filling up the huge demand for workers in many countries due to the OFWs’ inability to speak Spanish and other foreign language.

Brion said the government of Spain has expressed the desire to hire at least 2,000 Filipino workers, particularly caregivers and maids who can speak Spanish.

He said Japan also needs 100 nurses and caregivers that speaks Nippongo.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Rosalinda Baldoz reported that the country was only able to fill up more than half of the 10,000 job quota for OFWs this year.

Baldoz said that even though Korean employers prefer to hire Filipinos, the OFWs fail the required Korean Language Test (KLT).

Brion said the government is undertaking measures to teach OFWs the language of the country where they choose to work.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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