USAID suspends foreign training program for English-speaking jobs

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The United States Agency for International Development has suspended a program it was using to train foreign workers in the Philippines for jobs in English-speaking call centers.

USAID ended the Philippines-based program following New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones’ letter to the agency expressing outrage and calling for the program’s immediate suspension last week.

In a reply from USAID that Bishop and Jones received over the weekend and made public on Monday, the agency announced that it is suspending the English-training portion of the program — known in its entirety as the Philippines Growth with Equity in Mindanao.

“In response to the concerns you have raised, the agency is suspending its participation in the English language training program in Mindanao pending further review of the facts,” Barbara Feinstein, deputy assistant administrator for legislative affairs at USAID, wrote to the congressmen. “We will be in contact with your office to communicate the results of this review. Furthermore, the agency has established a high-level task force to review these matters.”

Following the announcement that the program has been suspended, Bishop doubled-down on how foolish government programs to train foreign workers for American jobs are.

“Regardless of how well intentioned, this program has the potential to harm the U.S. economy and must be stopped. I will closely monitor USAID’s response to ensure that America’s international economic development efforts in no way contribute to shipping our jobs overseas,” Bishop said. “We do not need a task force to tell us that outsourcing is a job killer and American taxpayers should not be supporting it in any fashion.”

“For the U.S. government to be borrowing money from China to train people in the Philippines to take our jobs is not only bad policy, it’s insanity,” added Jones. “I am pleased to learn that USAID has recognized how appalling this is to U.S. taxpayers, and has suspended the program.”

In 2010, the pair forced USAID to end a similar program in Sri Lanka.

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Caroline May