By Co-Founder, Jennifer Meehan
Fair Training Center (FTC) is a nonprofit training center with the mission to end the forced labour of migrant workers by reinventing domestic worker training. We are focused on becoming the standard for how migrant workers prepare for work and life overseas.
Migration is hard.
Fair Training Center is a response to the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who depart each year from the Philippines inadequately prepared for migration and bear the financial burden of excessive training fees.
High-termination rates are a critical risk factor, especially for first-time workers. We were shocked to learn from an industry leader that an estimated 30-40% of first-time workers were being terminated – or breaking their contracts - in the first few months of work. Many workers are charged huge fees by recruitment agencies and are indebted even before they begin their jobs. When they are fired from their jobs, they are at further risk of forced labour: They must find a new job - any job – within a maximum two-week period, or go home, oftentimes in debt and bringing shame on their families.
We began by understanding why termination rates were so high. We talked to many workers who shared anecdotes about their own early years in Hong Kong – and specifically highlighting just how unprepared they were for the job. They did not have the skill sets necessary to enable them to successfully match the expectations and needs of their employers.
We then looked at existing training centers in the Philippines and what kind of training was available. While TESDA NC-II Guidelines covered key aspects of job training, we found from our market research that employers required more expansive - beyond the technical skills of cooking and cleaning - and country-specific preparation. Most workers were not being exposed to the reality of the demands of the job. Further, many women planning to migrate had not traveled much beyond their village or town, yet they were not being prepared for life as a migrant overseas.
As we dug deeper into this problem, we came to understand how entrenched these issues are. In reality, the recruitment system is set up in such a way that agencies profit from high turn-over rates and are not incentivised to ensure that workers are properly prepared for what is ahead. This is a situation that is not only limited to domestic work, but many migrant work sectors.
Our Solution: The Early Years (2016-2019)
We saw an opportunity to transform pre-migration training for domestic workers and, in late 2016, Fair Training Center opened its doors.
FTC developed and deployed an innovative curriculum which has demonstrated the ability to dramatically reduce the termination rate of first-time domestic workers. Compared to the 30%-40% listed above, termination rates of our trainees in the first 3 months of work is below 10%.
Our Training Principles
Our vision for a new kind of training is based on the following key principles:
The training must be results-focused. Migration has the potential to lift workers and their families for a better future. Our training reduces turn-over rates and sets a foundation for workers to achieve their migration goals.
The training is current. We prepare workers for jobs today. Our workers are ready to meet the standards of international employers. Our training is grounded in research and delivered for efficient adult-learning.
The training is replicable. We treat our Training Center like an Innovation Hub, so that we can develop the curriculum's and tools that WILL become global standards.
Fair Training Center Today
Our goal is for trainees to leave our training programs saying – and more importantly believing – two things: “I am a trained professional” and “I will be a successful overseas worker.”
As we look to the future, we see two opportunities to grow this vision. First, we have been approached by others in the migrant recruitment sector targeting different industries - such as hospitality and maritime industries - to help prepare their workers. Second, with the unexpected reality of COVID, we have tested blended learning methods - combining online and in-person training - to reach more workers at lower cost while still maintaining the quality of low termination rates.
We look forward to collaborating closely with a wide range of stakeholders - from government to multilaterals to industry actors - to better serve migrant workers across the globe. And further, to make our vision of a world without forced labour, a reality.