The Philippines has been successful over the past decade in developing a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry that generates US$11 billion annually, with an ambitious goal of expanding this to $25 billion by the year 2016. (This in a country with a GDP of about $200 billion.)
This future concerns the industry’s leaders, who face “a looming talent supply gap,” in the words of the Business Process Association Philippines (BPAP). A recent meeting in Makati Metro Manila addressed the issue, focusing on several programs that BPAP has developed.
The goal is to attract, recruit, and develop the 1.1 new employees the industry will require to meet its 2016 goal. One keystone is something called the Global Competitive Assessment Tool (GCAT), described by BPAP Executive Talent Director Penny Bongato as “(measuring) the skills gaps and areas of improvement of test takers, to guide schools and companies in designing appropriate interventions.”
Advanced English Proficiency Training (aka AdEPT) is another tool, driven by leaders who don’t want to lose the country’s current advantage in this area among Asian nations. English is an official language here, with an inflection and spelling that is more American than British.
Scholarship programs – to which country President Benigno Aquino III committed more than $10 million on behalf of the national government last year – form another key building block, as are programs that will reach into the nation’s high schools to encourage IT-related career paths.
Time for a New Tradition
The Philippines remains a traditional country in which a student’s career path is often undertaken only after serious discussion within the family, and in which the lightning career changes found in the US seem impetuous and remain a foreign concept.
Furthermore, the IT in general and BPO in particular don’t yet have the prestige associated with careers in field such as medical, legal, and accounting. Yet the BPO industry continues to swim upstream into more IT-centric branches from its call-center roots, and the modern era of web services, cloud computing, and big data are making inroads here.
BPAP is attempting through its programs to reach and entice that next generation of young businesspeople to consider IT-related careers. It is also developing an Executive Development Program to “provide forward-thinking leadership and management education for executives who already hold key positions in IT-BP companies,” according to Bongato.
“The Philippines is at an inflection point,” according to BPAP CEO Benedict Hernandez. “We have the opportunity to take global leadership positions in many IT-BP sectors. (This) will take a huge concerted effort of all key industry players working very closely with all branches of government…(but) otherwise we could miss out on this rare opportunity.”Tyler Purcell is an American outsourcing consultant with offices in Florida and the Philippines. Tyler's vast experience in the call center outsourcing field offers clients access to experience, personal care, and excellent service. If you would like to contact Tyler directly with any questions about the outsourcing, BPO, or call center industry, you can reach him via sales (at) outsourcebpo.com