MANILA – The Philippines, one of the world’s largest producers of English-speaking nurses, is now deploying overseas an average of 12,000 of them every year, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said.
“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,” said TUCP president and former Sen. Ernesto Herrera.
Citing Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) statistics, Herrera said that of the 12,000 Filipino nurses “newly hired” by foreign employers every year, around 85 percent are female.
The other large groups of professional and technical workers deployed overseas by the Philippines include civil, mechanical, electrical and industrial engineers; composers, musicians and singers; artists and designers; physiotherapists and occupational therapists; teachers; accountants; architects; computer programmers; and midwives, according to Herrera.
Herrera cited the need for government to develop new foreign labor markets for tens of thousands of Filipino nurses, many of whom remain either totally idle, or have been driven to perform work that has nothing to do with their professional preparation.
“We would prefer the aggressive overseas deployment of nurses over other semi-skilled and unskilled workers, such as domestic helpers,” said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
“We have a large surplus of nurses anyway. Nurses are also less vulnerable to employer abuse because their skills are not easy to replace. In a way, Filipino nurses are naturally protected by their skills,” he pointed out.
Herrera said domestic helpers are “extremely susceptible” to (employer) mistreatment not only because they live with the employer, but also because their skills are “easier to replace.”
POEA statistics show that the Philippines also sets out overseas an average of 97,000 “newly hired” domestic helpers every year.
Meanwhile, Herrera said a total of 860 Philippine-educated nurses took the US NCLEX for the first time from January to March this year.
The NCLEX refers to the National Council Licensure Examination administered by the US (National Council of) State Boards of Nursing Inc.
The number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time, excluding repeaters, is considered a reliable indicator as to how many of them are trying to enter the profession in America.
Herrera said the 860 is fewer compared to 942 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time in the same quarter in 2013.
“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 pasture,” he said.
Herrera said many US-educated nurses are leaving America for higher pay and improved standards of living in the Middle East or elsewhere.
A total of 4,034 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time in the whole of 2013, up 9.8 percent over the 3,673 who went through the same examination in 2012.