The Philippines is one of the most important source countries for labour migrants around the world. The government of the Philippines has sought to actively promote migration among its population, even among those with high education levels, as this generates significant income in the form of remittances for the country. However, important numbers of overseas workers have returned to the country in recent years, particularly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. Returning migrant workers in many regions of the Philippines however face disproportionately high unemployment rates and struggle to reintegrate into the labour market, creating a need to support them to access improved opportunities.
According to our pre-campaign research carried out among returning or already returned migrant workers from the Philippines, 65% of former migrant workers were unemployed, with the majority facing unemployment for two or more years. The majority of respondents also faced a significant reduction in their monthly income after returning from abroad, and have struggled to obtain similar levels of income ever since. Additionally, three quarters of all returned migrant workers surveyed reported that they received no financial or reintegration support upon their return to the Philippines.
An app to improve skills and confidence
In a new project with support from the Macquarie Group Foundation, Seefar will develop an app for returned migrant workers in the Philippines. This app will support recently returned migrant workers from overseas to better integrate into the workplace, by providing them with vocational training and confidence building courses that they can access online. These courses will provide them with knowledge and skills to improve their entrepreneurial capacities and to access the global freelance economy. In addition, we will link them to employment opportunities and resources that will make their job search easier.
Seefar will use past experience with the development of comprehensive livelihoods programmes to ensure that beneficiaries receive training that will help them to acquire new skills but to also improve vital soft skills such as resilience, confidence and active behaviours that allow them to identify and seize opportunities.
Broader support campaign
The learning app will be complemented with a broader outreach campaign that will target returned migrant workers through social media and community outreach. Individuals who formerly lived abroad or who are in the process of returning will be targeted by a social media campaign seeking to link them to resources which can support them with their reintegration process. In addition, we will develop a network with local organisations working to support former migrant workers and will link up people who contact us with relevant services and information.