To quell fears that thousands of Filipino engineers and architects in Qatar could lose their job or be driven underground, authorities say local rules are being relaxed to give expats more time to become locally certified.
According to media reports, Filipino engineers and architects working in Qatar will have one year to apply for an exam that will allow them to officially register to practice in the state.
It requires them to register with the state’s Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA), which issues equivalency certificates that enable them to practice.
However, the system does not recognize the degree qualifications of professionals trained in the Philippines, who typically spend less time in school.
There are around 12,000 engineers and architects from the Philippines working in Qatar.
Government officials from the Philippines flew to Qatar last month ahead of a Jan. 31 registration deadline.
Those negotiations led to an announcement by the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment earlier this week that it had struck an agreement with Qatar authorities.
Professionals who graduated from a list of approximately 90 approved universities and colleges would be allowed to sit an exam to apply for registration.
Education authorities from the Philippines will give Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education a wider list of recognized programs, it added.
Those applying to register must also hold a valid Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) licence.
The exam can be attempted up to four times, Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan – the Chairperson of the Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education (CHED) – said in a statement:
“In the unlikely event that the applicant fails the fourth attempt, this will not necessarily result in losing one’s job but one’s title may have to be changed. The deadlines for accomplishing the registration process are flexible,” Licuanan added.
Applicants will have a year to apply for registration, Gulf Times reported the Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Wilfredo Santos as saying in a memo issued this week.
Qatar’s system requires professionals to have undertaken 12 years of primary and high school as well as at least four years at university.
However, prior to 2011, students in the Philippines only had six years of primary education and four years of high school for a total of 10 years, before going on to college or university.
This resulted in degrees from the Philippines only being recognized by the Qatari system as equivalent to diplomas, meaning degree holders were unable to register with Qatar’s Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA).
As part of an agreement with the Philippine government, Qatar is “in the process of putting together a national qualifications framework which will focus more on learning outcomes rather than the number of years,” the Gulf Times reported Santos as adding.
The Philippines Comission on Higher Education said it was working on a set of measures which would prove equivalency between the Qatari and Filipino degrees.
“It is anticipated that when it can be demonstrated that the learning outcomes of Philippine and Qatari Engineering and Architecture degrees are comparable, Philippine graduates will automatically be accepted for registration,” CHED’s Licuanan added.