Did you know that at anytime during the period April to September 2016 the number of Filipinos working overseas was estimated at 2.2 million? This is according to the results of the 2016 Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority. This number is expected to grow as thousands of Filipinos are deployed in various countries around the world every year. But did you ever stop to ask why many Filipinos are seeking employment abroad? Why would they want to leave their country, home and family to work overseas?
For many decades, millions of Filipinos have been leaving the country to find work with the hopes of having a better life than what they have at home. While there are many reasons for doing so, in this article I will be sharing the top 5 reasons why more and more Filipinos are seeking employment abroad.
1. High unemployment rate in the Philippines
According to a survey done by the Social Weather Station (SWS), there are over 11.3 million people unemployed in the country as of March 2011. This number is staggering and is mainly due to the multitudes of students taking on a profession which was deemed popular but is actually on a decline. Take for instance nursing, which is one of the most popular courses among Filipino students. Every year the Philippines produces 200,000 nursing graduates but there are only 2,500 available nursing jobs and that is why they are encouraged to work abroad rather than stay in their own country.
High unemployment rate is an unending problem in the country each year. And with such high competition for a career opportunity, some applicants out of desperation are forced to take on lower-paying jobs and without benefits as long as there is a security of tenure. Sadly, most employers and businessmen quickly jump at this opportunity to save labor cost and earn more profit.
I still remember how excited I was to start a new chapter in my life after graduation and passing the board examinations. I couldn’t wait to go out there and apply for a job, only to realize that employment opportunities are very limited. And aside from that, I needed experience in order to get hired. How exactly will fresh graduates get a job if they need experience before getting hired? Unless of course you graduated at the top of your class or topped the board or bar exams that companies would compete with one another to offer a salary you won’t be able to refuse just to get you on their team.
2. Higher income and salary
Filipinos always have the mentality that “the grass is greener on the other side.” It’s normal for people to want to have a more comfortable life and to secure the future of their children. Sadly, the salary of average worker in the Philippines is extremely lower compared to what their OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) counterparts are making.
It hurts to know the truth but let’s face it – being employed abroad to do the same work you do in the Philippines provides double or more income and salary than being employed in your own land. Professionals such as nurses, engineers, accountants and teachers are inadequately paid that’s why they’d rather work abroad even as domestic helpers or office clerks because there is a great possibility of earning a much higher salary which means they can send more money to their loved ones back home regularly.
3. It’s the trend today
Come on, everyone’s doing it! You’re not the only one who is dreaming to become rich and live on the greener side. There are already many Filipinos out there and somehow you should join the crowd and not be left behind. Almost every family has someone working abroad and sending financial support. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that even those who already have a stable job in the Philippines and earning good salary would give it all up just to experience life abroad.
4. Opportunity to explore and travel
Honestly, who wouldn’t want to do exactly that? In a recent study, 47% of the participants wanted to go abroad “just to travel.” This just shows that Filipinos are adventurous and want to see the world with their own eyes, take pictures and show them off to their friends. If working abroad means you get to experience life abroad, see other places, explore different cultures and meet other people, why not!
When I went abroad for the first time, I never expected that it would open a door of opportunity for me to travel and visit several countries. It is such a blessing and privilege to be able to explore different cultures and meeting different people. That experience is priceless regardless of the not-so-good experiences I’ve been through.
5. To achieve bigger success in their careers
It’s a common notion that being able to work abroad means that you are already a successful person. Well, this is mostly true as established doctors and lawyers do not mind taking up a new course to help them land a job overseas. We live in a world so competitive that having a global experience will give you a big career edge among other professionals. The fact that you have a global experience demonstrates to future employers that you have a worldwide perspective and a good understanding of the skills required in a global economy which makes them believe in your ability to adapt to diverse workplaces. Your skills and experience are almost always considered, whether you like it or not.
As someone who has been working overseas for 17 years, I’m thankful and blessed for the opportunity. Although working abroad is indeed rewarding, there is also the downside such as loneliness of being away from your family and loved ones, the high cost of living abroad and the discrimination from overseas employers and colleagues.
But what I discovered is if you have been living and working abroad for the longest time and you go back home to the Philippines for good, you are surely going to miss the lifestyle and the environment you have gotten used to. I know because that’s what happened to me. It’s no longer about the higher salary or unemployment problem but it’s about the life you enjoyed abroad despite being away from your family. You get to go home anyway every one to two years.
What about you, what are your reasons for wanting to work abroad? If you are an overseas Filipino worker reading this article, what prompted you to leave your homeland and seek employment abroad? Do you regret it? Why or why not?