BPO jobs to reach 1M in 2010

September 20, 2009 11:20 am 

MANILA, Sept. 20 — No sunrise industry is more associated with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo than business process outsourcing (BPO). Although BPOs started in the country in the 1990s, the industry really took off only after Mrs. Arroyo assumed power.

From 4,000 in 2001, the number of BPO workers reached 350,000 in 2007, spurred on in part by the country’s stable economic environment and by aggressive marketing abroad by the President. There were 400,000 workers as of February 2009. It is estimated that by 2010, available jobs will be 900,000 despite the ongoing global economic slowdown.

The sector’s future growth can be traced in part to the country’s two-pronged strategy, according to Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Eduardo Lacson.

While the country will continue to offer voice-activated services, which require facility in English as well as other languages, it will also branch out to non-voice services such as medical transcription and animation as well as to the more lucrative development of software.

President Arroyo acknowledged the sector’s remarkable performance that has helped the country post positive growth rates despite the global economic slowdown.

She said the fast development of the BPO industry in the country is an example of an industry that nobody ever thought before would become a driver of growth.

“This is an example of what I said that we want to create jobs so that, for (Filipinos), it will be a career choice to go abroad and not the only choice,” the President Arroyo said in her CNBC interview during her trip to New York City last year.

As of end-2008, the sector generated US$ 6.1 billion in revenues and it is projected to reach $ 13 billion in 2010. This is only 6.7 percent of the estimated $ 326 billion global information and communication technology (ICT) outsourcing market, according to data issued by the Canada-based ICT research and advisory firm XMG Global.

Right now, the Philippines is the third top performing offshore country in the Asia Pacific, next to India and China.

The Philippines is aiming for a 10-percent market share as it sells its many advantage to companies in the United States and Europe. These include a steady supply of competent and educated workers, improving telecommunications infrastructures, and government incentives.

Although the majority of BPO companies are located in Metro Manila, there is a marked migration into other key economic centers of the country such as in Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Subic, Bacolod and Baguio, in part to be closer to their employee base and in part to keep their costs such as leases as low as possible.

To further aid the sunrise industry, government has allocated P350 million for a training program called PGMA-Training for Work Scholarship Program (PGMA-TSWP) through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in partnership with the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP). The training program does not only cover English language proficiency but also the use of computers.

Likewise, government is offering significant fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract more foreign direct investments, primarily through its Cyber Corridor project, which is part of the President’s 10-point agenda.

The Cyber Corridor is an ICT channel running the length of the Philippines that interconnects BPO services centers all over the country to efficiently bring together cyber service providers and BPO locators. The goal is to employ one million workers by 2010. (PNA) LDV/OPS/rsm

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