Japan officially opened its labor market to Filipino workers under the Human Resource Development Model Project 2017, according to the Trade Department.
This is the first time that the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made the hiring of Filipino manpower official, the agency said.
“This is a program that will train Filipinos to be skilled in construction work. Part of the agreement is that Japan will get to hire 30 percent of trainees per batch and allow the remaining 70 percent to be locally-hired,” said Trade Undersecretary for construction and ease of doing business Ruth Castelo.
Castelo said while Japan needed people to help in the reconstruction and creation of new infrastructure, the Philippines was also in dire need of workers to implement the ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program and other ongoing projects.
Data showed that Filipino trainees to Japan increased four times from 402 in 2011 to 1,608 in 2016 under the Foreign Construction Workers Acceptance Program. The Philippines ranked third after China and Vietnam in terms of number of trainees.
The Philippines and Japan recently signed a memorandum of cooperation to kick-off the training program and the subsequent hiring of trained workers in Japan and in the Philippines.
One of the factors the Philippines chose Japan as its training partner is because of the discipline it could instill among Filipino workers training on-site.
“We saw in Japan during a benchmarking forum how teamwork plays an important role in getting a job done. Technology aside, the discipline of workers made the job easier and the timeline to get it done, shorter,” Castelo said.
Workers will start earning during the training period for an internship period of three to four months, while those who will be hired by Japan are required to finish the program in three years.
Returning workers to the Philippines, after working for three years in Japan, will undergo retraining for them to get reintegrated into the Philippine workforce.
“That is why I told our Japanese counterpart to inform us if the program period is about to end so we can apply the necessary intervention and match them with local construction companies here,” Castelo said.
The Construction Manpower Development Foundation would be in charge of the training of workers and coordinate with legitimate agencies like the MLIT of Japan for the program and the private construction firms for job matching.
Major construction firms like DMCI Holdings Inc., Makati Development Corp., EEI Corp., MDC, Megaworld Corp. and Pacific Paint Development Inc., makers of Boysen paints, have their own training facilities.
The Philippines had 3.86 million construction workers as of July 2017. It is estimated that the country would need an additional 2 million workers to fill up the required manpower for the ambitious ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and other government projects.