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Prepare for the day overseas jobs run out

In a fortuitous turn of events, the Philippine population is rising and turning out trained and capable workers at a time when many other nations are needing more and more people for their own development needs.

The Philippine population has now reached 106.6 million, according to United Nations estimates, making us the world’s No. 13 most populous nation. At least 1.8 million Filipino babies are expected to be born this year, Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III of the Commission on Population said. Thus by the end of this year, our total population is expected to reach 107.19 million.

Under ordinary circumstances, this would be a major problem for our government. For a population growing at such a great rate, there would be need for many more homes, more schools, more food, more services, more power, more jobs, etc. The government is doing what it can in all these areas, but it is fortunate that so many other countries are in need today of the services that well-trained Filipinos can supply.

There are today over 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in all corners of the planet, according to the Commission on Overseas Filipinos. The actual number is close to 12 million, according to other groups, as so many of our OFWs are undocumented.

Many are in the United States, historically the Filipinos’ favorite work site. But Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations with their oil riches have attracted workers because of their accelerated economic development programs. Singapore, China especially Hong Kong, Japan, and other Asian centers are much closer to us and so many Filipinos are there today.

Filipino professionals most in demand abroad are doctors and nurses, engineers, information technology professionals, and seamen, along with construction and household service workers. Their remittances to the Philippines reached $28 billion in 2017, funds which sent their children to school while boosting the Philippine economy.

If these overseas jobs were not available, we would be having big problems with our burgeoning population. Conversely, the host nation would not advance as much in their development if they did not have the professionals and other workers needed to run their oil plants, their tankers, their schools, their factories.

It is good that there is so much work available around the world today and so many OFWS leave because of much higher pay. We cannot, however, expect this situation to last forever. One day, the need for workers in these countries will drop, partly because of local manpower growth, partly cause of increasing use of robotics.

We must prepare for the day when such openings will no longer be available and we must have work right here for our own people.