‘Caregiver jobs for Filipinos in HK expected soon’

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Cheung and Morales shake hands during Morales' farewell call (PCG photo)

HONG KONG Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said Filipinos might soon get new job opportunities in HK when the territory allows foreigners to work as caregivers, according to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The DFA said in a report that Cheung, who formerly served as HK labor and welfare secretary, made the statement when former Consul General Antonio Morales visited him for a farewell call before going back to Manila.

“The Chief Secretary…noted the ageing population of Hong Kong, with the elderly currently numbering 60,000 and expected to grow to 1.2 million in 20 years,” the report said.

“He predicts that there will be opportunities soon in Hong Kong for foreign caregivers, especially to Filipinos who are able to speak English,” it added.

The DFA report said Cheung emphasized the significant role that foreign household service workers (HSWs) have in Hong Kong’s economy.

“It is imperative for employers to protect the HSWs, noting that the Hong Kong economy would not have reached its height without the contribution of foreign HSWs,” it quoted Cheung as saying.

He added that Hong Kong women would have been confined to their homes if not for the presence of foreign HSWs.

Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre earlier said that there were “many indications” that Hong Kong would import caregivers in the future under a visa category different from that of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).

Speaking during the Filipino community’s impromptu farewell party for him, Dela Torre said the expected opening for caregivers would be good news for Filipinos because caregivers get a higher salary than FDHs.

“Nagiging dynamic ngayon ang labor market dito sa Hong Kong because of the potential opening of caregivers,” Dela Torre said during the gathering at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on July 7.

“Maraming indications ang nakikita namin na the Hong Kong government might get on with a new policy that will enable employers here in Hong Kong to import and to deploy caregivers to Hong Kong,” he said.

“Medyo magandang balita yan kasi mas mataas ang hanay ng caregivers at mas malaki ang sweldo. Ang problema ngayon kasi hindi mabilis yung development ng policy nila sa immigration,” he added.

Dela Torre said the HK government experimented “in tweaking the duties and obligations of domestic helpers to include caregiving.”

“So, kung if ever sisimulan ito, siguro magiging special niche ito para sa ibang klaseng job order, at ibang klaseng accreditation system for players that intend to participate in the caregivers’ deployment,” Dela Torre said.

Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said in November 2017 that Hong Kong would need a total 600,000 domestic helpers in the next 30 years due to the city’s ageing population.

“Today, we have 360,000 foreign domestic helpers. Because of an ageing population, 30 years down the road, that demand will grow to 600,000,” Law said.

“That means an additional 240,000 foreign domestic helpers just looking after the elderly,” he added.