Recruiters want more Pinoy caregivers in Hong Kong

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Filipino domestic workers in Central

HONG KONG families are willing to offer higher salary to Filipino nursing graduates to take care of their elderly.

Kitman Cheung, CEO of Overseas Employment Centre (Hong Kong and Macau), told Hong Kong News they had been seeking Filipinos who completed their nursing degrees to offer them at least $5,000 to serve as caregivers to the elderly and the sick.

“We have started deploying Filipinos as caregivers nine months ago, and we have deployed more than 20 already. The problem is the provider, they can not give us enough [nursing graduates].

“They promised us nursing graduates, but in fact, no, they give us caregivers only or those who have six-month training,” Cheung said.

Owing to this, he said they had slowed down their deployment as they could not offer $5,000 to those who were not nursing graduates.

“We can employ between 20 and 30 nursing graduates to become caregivers, but not right now. The provider only gives us one nursing graduate or two.

“Our agreement states that we would be deploying nursing graduates, school graduates and there’s no need for them to have experience, and no need for them to
have passed the examination…and if we pay $5,000, but other agencies, they pay just over $4,400, we can not compete,” Cheung said.

Alfredo Palmiery, president of the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines (SHARP), said Philippine-based recruiters deploy workers to
become stay-in caregivers.

“Asians generally do not like sending the elderly to a nursing home b e c a u s e they worry that their parents or grandparents could be mistreated there. They would rather take care of them at home,” Palmiery said.

He said this development in the market was “positive” as those who would be gaining experience in providing care in Hong Kong could use the experience in applying for caregiving jobs in Japan, whose population is one of the fastest-aging in the world.

“They can be hired in kaigo (caregiving) centers in Japan, provided that they could also acquire some Japanese language training,” Palmiery added.

Both Consul-General Bernardita Catalla and Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre also viewed the possible deployment of Filipinos as caregivers in Hong Kong as a positive deployment.

“I think it’s going to be a thing of the future…This is a prospect that has been discussed because of the aging population here.

“This is good for Filipinos because this requires specialized skills and Filipinos are known to be very good carers because we have tender loving care. Our nurses overseas are known for that. Filipino nurses are preferred because of that,” Catalla said.

She added that the Philippine government should prepare for this opportunity.

Dela Torre said Filipinos who wish to work in Hong Kong as caregivers could earn higher.

“The moment they announce it as official policy, we will pursue it because that’s good for the [Filipino] community. This means [Filipinos’] skills as caregivers will be officially recognized and therefore they will be compensated higher,” he said.

However, he was unsure whether nursing graduates would be willing to work as caregivers in Hong Kong.

“We will pursue it because it’s a good market development, but I don’t know what the parameters are of this new policy and if they continue to have a domestic worker’s visa or if the Hong Kong government will have a new category for caregivers and that’s the ideal arrangement for the nursing graduates,” Dela Torre said.

The research office of the Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Secretariat has said a third of the city’s population would be over the age of 60 by 2034.

Latest data also showed Hong Kong’s population had the longest life expectancy in the world, 87 for women, and 81 for men, which could mean the city’s labor force would shrink.

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