Despite the high global demand, employment prospects appear to be getting bleak for new Filipino nurses.
Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently showed that only two of every 100 students taking up nursing are likely to qualify and get employed overseas.
While the country is producing a high of 400,000 nursing graduates annually, records from the DOLE's Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated a very limited deployment of Filipino nurses for the past seven years.
From 2000 to 2007, POEA recorded only a total of 77,947 nurses hired in the United States and other countries.
The highest deployment of 13,822 was recorded in 2001.
Last year, 9,000 Filipino nurses were employed overseas as the number of students, who enrolled in nursing schools, ballooned to 450,000.
Based on the POEA data, Saudi Arabia employed the biggest number of Filipino nurses in 2007 with a total of 6,633, followed by the United Arab Emirates, 616 and Kuwait, 393.
United States and United Kingdom, which are the favorite destinations of most Filipino nurses, employed 186 and 38, respectively.
Labor Undersecretary Carmelita Pineda earlier admitted that the country is now experiencing a surplus of nurses mainly due to the huge number of young Filipinos opting to take up nursing.
She further pointed out that lack of necessary facilities to train nursing students as well as lack of experience hamper licensed Filipino nurses from getting employed overseas.
"The number of nursing enrollees has ballooned from 30,000 in year 2000 to a high of 450,000 last year and yet we have a shortage of qualified nurses to work abroad," Pineda pointed out.
Amid oversupply of nurses in the country, the local recruitment industry yesterday pushed for the upgrading of all nursing schools.
Recruitment leader Lito Soriano said instead of closing down nursing schools, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should upgrade them to cope with the demand for qualified nurses.
Meantime, despite plans to strictly regulate the hiring of Filipino domestic helpers, the POEA has maintained that the government does not intend to close the market. - Mayen Jaymalin (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)