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05 oct 2015

IOM-MPI Issue in Brief No. 5 - Strengthening Pre-Departure Orientation Programmes in Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines

The state plays a strong role in overseas employment programmes in the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal, which are leading labour exporters — with more than 2 million of their workers deploying on formal temporary contracts in 2009 alone.

With overseas employment a more permanent feature of the employment and development strategies of these and other Asian states, pre-departure orientation programmes have emerged as an important tool for the protection of migrant workers, especially when abroad. 

In Strengthening Pre-Departure Orientation Programmes in the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal, authors Maruja M. B. Asis and Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias examine the strengths, limitations and areas for improvement of this intervention, based on findings from field research conducted in the three countries. 

Pre-departure programmes provide basic information to departing migrant workers to ease their transition into the country of destination and empower them to maximize the benefits of their overseas employment. While the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal have implemented their government-mandated programmes in different ways, the initiatives are premised on two ideas: (1) that the protection of migrants begins at home, and (2) that information builds a foundation for migrant empowerment and protection. 

The authors find that poor implementation compromises the intent of pre-departure orientation seminars to promote the protection of migrant workers, and offer a series of recommendations to improve effectiveness.

The issue brief is the fifth in a series launched by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific offering succinct insights on migration issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region today. To read earlier briefs in the series, visit IOM Online Bookstore and Migration Policy Institute.

  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Three models
    1. The Philippines
    2. Indonesia
    3. Nepal
  • III. Key challenges
    1. It is unclear whether migrants acquire necessary and relevant information from pre-departure information programmes
    2. Pre-departure information programmes tend to have a one-size-fits-all design
    3. Different stakeholders hold irreconcilable views about the division of labour in pre-departure information programmes
    4. There is a vacuum of reliable migration information beyond urban centres
    5. There is a lack of coordination among government agencies and between different levels of government
  • IV. Good practices
    1. Involving local governments as partners in predeparture orientation programmes
    2. Involving civil society organizations in information programmes for migrant workers
    3. Supplementing pre-departure orientations or briefings with other information programmes
    4. Creating orientation programmes aimed at recruitment agencies
    5. Establishing migration information centres in local communities
  • V. Conclusions and key recommendations
    1. Seek the cooperation of receiving countries in migrant workers’ orientation programmes
    2. Build technical knowledge by learning from others
    3. Provide support to consular services to forge ties with migrants and relevant destination-country government institutions
  • Works cited
  • Endnotes
  • About the Authors
  • Acknowledgments