Qatar- Job loss fears among Filipino engineers baseless: Official

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Patricia B Licuanan Chairperson Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines addressing the media at the Philippine embassy yesterday.

DOHA: A Filipino official has allayed fears over reports that thousands of Filipino engineers and architects might lose their jobs for not meeting the deadline to comply with requirements of Qatar’s Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA).

Patricia B Licuanan Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) of the Philippines said yesterday: “There is no real crisis. People are not about to lose their jobs.”

Licuanan along with Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) acting chairperson Angeline T Chua Chiaco yesterday concluded their visit to Qatar during which they met with officials of UPDA and Qatar’s Minister of Education and Higher Education.

“The purpose of our visit was primarily to pursue possible measures to help Filipino professionals specifically engineers and architects who are now required to register with the UPDA and we wanted to explore ways of counteracting the downgrading of our Bachelor’s degree to a diploma.”

All expatriate engineers and architects are required to register with UPDA which issues equivalency certificates to enable them to legally practise their profession.

During the implementation of the law however it was discovered that the Philippine basic education system is two year short of the regular cycle hence the Bachelor’s degree was considered equivalent to a diploma.

To take the exams that will lead to the granting of equivalency certificates Filipino engineers and architects should have graduated from a school on the list of 92 accredited schools as well as passed the PRC licensure examination in the Philippines.

The applicants are given four chances to pass the examination in Qatar to be granted the equivalency certificate. “This is not a difficult requirement. They did say too that from their experience the Filipinos pass it on the first or second try. But in the very unlikely event that they fail four times it still doesn’t mean they will lose their job. Their job title might just change.”

Licuanan said the issue “caused a lot of problems obviously a lot of anxiety. We would hear horror stories at home from various sources and the most urgent thing the reason we’re here is that we also heard that there was a January 31 deadline” said Licuanan.

“While there should be a sense of urgency for all of us there are no absolute deadlines. So in a sense they have been quite liberal also in extending deadlines and I thought that was quite positive and reassuring” she added.

Licuanan said the list of accredited schools are to be updated and they will come up with the final list as soon as they can. The list she said comprises 500 schools “ that have recognition from CHED centres of excellence centres of development and autonomous institutions” among others.

She also said they will make sure to help the Filipinos who have not taken the PRC exam to take it. “It’s something that would be useful for them even though initially they didn’t need it here now they do and they certainly need it at home.”

The issue have been exaggerated and there had been rumours going around. “That’s why we really had to hear what’s going on. There might have been some lay-offs but for totally different reasons. Companies are going through this cost-cutting measure so there might be some lay-offs because of that but not because of this.”

“We cannot deny the fact that companies may have their own programme for retrenching for cost cutting and this will affect Filipinos as well as other employees. That is one of the realities of the economic situation. I think the Qatari government has no intention of losing the very precious human capital here in the person of Filipinos. But it is also very clear to us that the Qatari government is very serious about implementing this law. It had been around since 2005 but people were taking it for granted but now they’re serious of implementing it so we should take that as a warning.”

“Having met Filipinos here in Doha it’s very clear that Filipinos play a very important role in Qatar so I don’t think they will be let go very easily. We are a very important resource and I’m very proud to see Filipinos doing so well. We see this around the world.

As a major educational reform the Philippines has already introduced a K-12 education system which follows the 12-year basic education cycle which complies with requirements of Qatar and other countries.

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