Abu Dhabi UAE: More than 700 Filipinos in the UAE and the GCC will sit for their professional exams in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
The special board exams will be for nurses, architects, certified public accountants, teachers, electrical, electronic, civil and mechanical engineers, and electricians and plumbers.
“Many of those who have passed the exams in recent years either got a promotion or found higher-paying jobs,” said Jethroefel Ramboyong, 40, a licensed telecoms engineer in Abu Dhabi.
Since 2009, the Philippines’ Professional Regulation Commission has conducted professional board exams in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to give Filipinos working in the Middle East an opportunity to take the exams without the need to return home.
“The programme aims to enhance overseas Filipino workers’ competitiveness at their job sites by officially recognising their respective competencies through globally-accepted licensures,” said Mr Ramboyong, who is also the chairman of the Filipino Professionals Group in the UAE.
The various professional organisations in the UAE, which operate under the umbrella of the Filipino Professionals Group, help members to prepare for their board exams and ease exam-related stress by organising review classes.
Russel Pamulaya, who has lived and worked in Dubai for 13 years, was initially reluctant to sit the architecture exams, but his friends encouraged him to give it a try.
“An architectural licence is not a requirement in the Middle East,” said the 46-year-old, who heads the estimation and drawing department at an architectural design firm in Dubai.
“But I think it is worth having, especially when I decide to practise my profession back home.”
Before moving to the UAE, he worked as a draughtsman in Saudi Arabia from 1991 to 1998.
To prepare, he travelled to Abu Dhabi every Friday for six months to attend review classes organised by the United Architects of the Philippines.
“After years of working in the Middle East, it felt like going back to zero and learning the basics,” said Mr Pamulaya, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1989. “We had to review the history and theory of architecture, principles of planning and all that theoretical stuff.”
A professional licence, he said, would give him a sense of fulfilment.
Maribel Nicholas-Galvez, 33, head trainer at Mr Pamulaya’s review classes, topped last year’s exams in the Middle East, scoring 81.8 per cent.
“I didn’t miss a single review class from March to October last year,” she said. “And now we’re trying to ‘pay it forward’ by helping aspirants like Russel get that licence.”
Last year 133 Filipinos passed board exams in the UAE. Of those, 92 were architects.
“Passing the board exams gives merit to an individual’s technical skills by the PRC, a regulatory body recognised in most parts of the world,” Mr Ramboyong said. “A professional licence can help prepare Filipinos to compete in the global market and work in highly sought-after companies.”
The exams will be held at Polaris Private Academy on Najda Street from October 3 to October 5. Other testing centres in the Middle East are in Doha, Riyadh and Al Khobar.
© The National