The Philippine government has offered to help a Nova Scotia company in recruiting Filipino workers to build Canada’s new warships.
A delegation from the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Toronto, led by Chargé d'Affaires Francisco Noel R. Fernandez III, visited the facilities of Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax on September 19, 2022.
The delegation was received by the company’s human resources vice president Jim Rennie.
The visit was arranged by Nova Scotia-based Philippine Consul Consuelo Lacson.
In a statement, the Philippine embassy stated that the “visit allowed the delegation to inspect the worksite where the fourth Arctic Off-Shore Patrol Vessel of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is currently being built”.
“With Irving Shipbuilding contracted to build the CAF's next generation Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) fleet, the company is currently recruiting Filipino shipbuilding employees to meet its manpower requirement for this critical contract.
“During the meeting which followed the worksite visit, Rennie provided an overview of the support services they have in place to ensure the successful integration of their prospective Filipino employees to the company and the Halifax community.
“The Philippine Embassy and POLO offered to support the recruitment of Filipino employees by Irving Shipbuilding through the necessary guidance in complying with overseas recruitment processes of the Philippine Government,” the embassy said in its statement.
Irving Shipbuilding is a partner in the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) of the Canadian federal government.
The company was selected through a process to construct Canada’s future naval combatant fleet.
On its website, Irving Shipbuilding explains that the Canadian Surface Combatants or CSCs are designed to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will allow Canada to conduct independent naval operations.
The warships will also allow for greater interoperability with partner countries.
On September 22, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Irving is recruiting to bring in workers from the Philippines as it gets ready to construct the first of 15 CSCs.
Mary Keith, Irving vice president of communication, said in the paper’s report that 98 per cent of the company’s workforce is Canadian and the firm’s priority is to hire Canadians with experience.
Keith also stated in the report that foreign workers being brought in by the firm “are achieving permanent residency and citizenship, contributing to Canada’s economy”.
“We currently have approximately 250 open positions for staff, leadership, and skilled trades,” Keith added.
The Philippines has a robust shipbuilding industry.
In a briefing paper, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines states that the country has been the fourth largest ship producer in the world, based on gross tonnage, since 2010.
Moreover, Philippine shipbuilding employs 48,000 workers. It is geographically concentrated in the greater Manila area and Cebu.
“A key advantage as well as constraint for the Philippines is related to the workforce,” the DTI paper notes. “The abundant, cost-competitive and hard-working workforce often goes overseas to earn higher wages.”