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Saudi, Britain open doors to DH nurses; Japan next

16 October 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao
A Saudi military hospital is seeking 250 care assistants while Britain is in need of 40,000 nurses, opportunities that could allow hundreds of Filipino nurses-turned- helpers in Hong Kong to return to their profession.

Japan, meanwhile, could soon open its doors to Filipino caregivers, given its rapidly ageing population.

These bits of information were relayed by two recruiters from Manila who provided new career options to Filipinos nursing graduates and caregivers who attended the whole-day Nurses Forum III on Oct. 4 at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Admiralty Centre.

FredPalmiery of Concorde and SHARP discuss job opportunities for RNs and BSN graduates in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. (Photo from Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre).

Saudi specialist and former nurse Alma Culala from LBS Recruitment Solutions Corp and Alfredo Palmiery, an employment agency owner in Manila and president of the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines, took turns briefing the 207 nurse-helpers who came for the orientation.

Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre, who organized the forum in cooperation with the Philippine Nurses in Hong Kong, said the seminar would open the way for nurses doing domestic work in Hong Kong to return to their profession.

“I think it’s a serious deskilling problem when nurses and other women of professions leave the country for work not suited for their professional backgrounds,” Labatt Dela Torre said.

“I have nothing against domestic work. It’s a decent way of earning money, but our nurses, midwives and teachers need to take up their professions and pursue their dreams working in jobs they have studied and spent a lot of money for.

The various fora we have organized for nurses, midwives and teachers are designed to open new opportunities for them.”

This was the first time that LBS, a supplier of nurses, paramedical and support staff to 16 government hospitals in Saudi Arabia and a private hospital in Brunei, came to Hong Kong to recruit staff for a Saudi hospital, said Culala.

“We are here to give you the opportunity to go back to nursing. King Faisal Hospital in Jeddah is in need of 250 care assistants,” Culala told the 102 participants who included two males.

She said BS Nursing graduates not younger than 22 years but not older than 44 are needed for the position, whether with experience or not. 

Practical nursing graduates without experience are also accepted, Culala said.

The recruiter offered a tax-free salary of Php32,000 to Php33,000 a month, air tickets, free board and lodging, yearly paid vacation of 40 days. The only cost for applicants is the Php12,000 medical checkup fee refundable upon arrival in Jeddah.

Culala told The SUN the care assistants would get three days off a week but would have longer work days as they will be required to be on duty for 48 hours a week.

Palmiery, meanwhile, said British hospitals prefer Filipino nurses to other Asians because of their English proficiency, neatness and caring service.
He said the three- to five-year contract pays a starting salary of £22,128 a year, equivalent to Php1.5 million at the current exchange rate, but it’s not tax-free and the worker will have to rent her own room after three months.

He warned that Britain requires applicants to be very proficient in English, as they will have to score no less than 7.0 in the language testing system for migrants who want to work in that country.

He said interested OFWs should first enroll in an IELTS review class before taking the test.

Applicants could enroll in online IELTS review classes, but the fee is a bit steep at about US$390 for a 40-hour course. The IELTS English proficiency test evaluates a candidate’s reading, writing, listening and skilling (understanding) skills.

Japan is also a potential market for caregivers given the long life expectancy of its citizens, but it requires foreign workers to be able to speak and understand Nihongo, Palmiery said.

The audience cheered when Palmiery said he would set up a Nihongo school in Hong Kong so that OFWs who plan to apply for caregiver positions in Japan do not have to go home and enroll in language schools there.

He said he is just waiting for the signing of a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Japan that would open this new opportunity for Filipino caregivers.

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