The Middle East has remained as a Top OFW destination as per the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA in 2019. Since 2016, the top 5 destinations for overseas Filipinos are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. The Middle East had the biggest hires and rehires in 2016, taking 69.4 percent or 764,793 of new and returning OFWs.
POEA said that most countries in the Middle East have worked on their nationalization, which means companies are required to fill up their workforce with their citizens first before foreign workers. However, despite this, Filipinos were still preferred workers. To some degree, Filipinos still have access to different jobs, as mentioned by POEA Marketing Director Levinson Alcantara. In 2019 alone, records showed that the demand for OFWs is up by 21 percent.
What exactly are the job opportunities that our kababayans get into?
1) Domestic Work. In the Arab society, Filipino domestic workers contribute largely to their households. Cooking, cleaning, elderly care, babysitting, pet care, and even entire household management in some cases are the important roles our OFWs take on. Our OFW women with the age range of 20 to 40 years old, are part of the statistics of 1.6 million domestic workers from the total of 3.16 million worldwide.
2) Healthcare and Nursing. The Middle East is in the top 3 destinations for our kababayan nurses, caregivers, midwives, and doctors. During this pandemic alone, our Filipino healthcare workers played impactful roles as frontliners here in the UAE, participating in vaccination drives, emergency care, virus testing, critical care, and so much more. Ronald Soriano Gamiao, president of the Filipino Nurses Association in the Emirates (FNAE), said there are approximately 30,000 nurses in the UAE.
3) Construction labor. The jobs include laborers and linemen, machinery operators and metal workers, truck drivers and drillers, carpenters and construction workers. With the fastest growth in the worldwide construction market, the UAE leads the way along with Qatar, Oman, and Egypt.
4) Skilled construction. Because of our strong work ethic and excellent skills, many Filipinos continue to be prioritized in this sector in line with the Middle East’s high-speed growth in the infrastructure industry. These jobs include plumbers and pipe-fitters, painters and pattern makers, welders and wire-men, as well as supervisors and surveyors.
5) Engineering. Our kababayans take roles as civil and electrical engineers, industrial and mechanical engineers, as well as engineering technicians and mining engineers. Engineering-related mechanics and electrical technicians are still in demand in the Middle East.
In the job landscape, recruiters acknowledge that hard skills are nothing without an employee’s soft skills, sometimes, even most important in a resume. What used to be black and white in employability skills are now introduced with gray areas that we need to take notice of.