The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) commended the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for its significant efforts in skills development and the recognition of skills among migrant workers. Undersecretary Carmela I. Torres, representing the DOLE, delivered a noteworthy intervention during the Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and International Labour Organization (ILO) session on 07 July 2023.

Undersecretary Torres expressed the DOLE’s gratitude for the timely, relevant, and important initiatives undertaken by the IOM. She acknowledged the challenges faced in recognizing the skills of migrant workers due to the varying qualifications frameworks among ASEAN Member States. However, she emphasized the significance of recent pilot projects implemented by Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, which focused on specific occupations.

Highlighting DOLE’s commitment to the cause, Undersecretary Torres cited the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as an example. TESDA recently conducted pilot workshops in June 2023, focusing on the mutual recognition of skills in warehouse and forklift operations within the logistics sector. These workshops aimed to observe live demonstrations of assessment and skill comparability, leading to the development of a mutual practical test to be implemented for skill standard testing
between Thailand and the Philippines. The valuable lessons learned from these initiatives will be shared with other ASEAN member states.

Undersecretary Torres expressed the need for mutual agreements and an integrated work plan between the ILO and IOM. She proposed a collaborative effort, targeting the mutual recognition of selected occupations that are in high demand among receiving ASEAN Member States. This coordinated approach would ensure a unified and streamlined process for recognizing skills.

Furthermore, Undersecretary Torres stressed the importance of the reintegration of migrant workers, an area where DOLE closely collaborates with the Department of Migrant Workers. Recognizing the significance of prior learning, she expressed the Philippines’ readiness to share experiences and best practices with ASEAN Member States through the ILO and IOM platforms.

The Philippines aims to contribute actively to the advancement of this process, ensuring that the mutual recognition of skills among migrant workers becomes a standard practice throughout the ASEAN region. The SLOM-IOM session, as part of the week-long activities under the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials’ Workshop on the Mid-Term Review and Strategic Planning of the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Work Programme 2021-2025, was attended by various ASEAN Member States and the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.