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POEA eyes apprenticeship to address oversupply of nurses

MANILA, Philippines - Amid the oversupply of Filipino nurses, the government is looking into the possibility of employing them as interns in hospitals abroad.

“That (nurse apprenticeship) is something that we should look into," said Jennifer Manalili, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in a recent interview with GMANews.TV.

Manalili issued the statement after the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters (FAME), an umbrella organization of recruitment agencies, said that apprenticeship especially in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, might address the unemployment of licensed Filipino nurses.

Jackson Gan, FAME vice president, said that the apprenticeship would provide the two-year training experience needed by the nurses.

Manalili said former POEA administrator and now labor undersecretary Rosalinda Baldoz called for a meeting with concerned sectors, schools, and hospitals two weeks ago to review the apprentice proposal.

“We have to admit that 400,000 of our nurses are unemployed because they don’t qualify for the countries that are requiring nurses," said Manalili, who replaced Baldoz as POEA chief just recently.

According to the POEA chief, it is not the sudden surge on the number of nurses that is plaguing the industry but the lack of qualified nurses who can work abroad. “It’s not that we lack jobs to send them to, we just lack qualified people.

" Manalili said the two-year experience requirement prevents many hospitals abroad from hiring Filipino nurses.

“Mag-apprentice muna sila doon bago maging regular (They should work first as apprentices there first before becoming regulars)," said Manalili.

She said apprenticeship is a common practice, especially in hiring Filipino seafarers. “Yung mga kadete din naman sa barko apprentice, may bayad naman at while training, they are employed (Some cadets on ships are apprentices, they are paid while training, they are employed).

" The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) on Wednesday declined to comment on the matter while talks were going on about the apprenticeship proposal.

More than 28,000 examinees passed the nursing licensure exam last June, most of whom are expected to remain unemployed for sometime due to lack of good job opportunities.

Officials have attributed the increasing number of unemployed nurses to a slowdown in hiring of foreign nurses in the United States and United Kingdom since 2006. - KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMANews.TV

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