Outsourcing Threatened by Lack of Trained Workers

The outsourcing industry may be hard-pressed in adding 80,000 to 100,000 new jobs every year due to what is now described is the acute problem of declining trained manpower.

But despite this, the country’s information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry remains optimistic of hitting double-digit growth in revenues this year.

“80,000 is a stretch,”

said Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo at the sidelines of the 3rd International Outsourcing Summit (IOS) at Sofitel Manila yesterday.

Addressing the delegates earlier in his welcome remarks, Domingo said: “It is a supply-side problem, not a demand-side problem.”

Coming from a wide base of 600,000 workers in the industry, adding 80,000 to 100,000 workers every year suited to the industry’s requirement is a challenge.

“The problem now is becoming very acute…because of the size of the requirement that we have to fill every year for the foreseeable future,”

Domingo said.

The trade chief has recommended that training of workers entering the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry should go beyond the classrooms.

This would be done by offering free courses either online or through CDs that would train workers.

“In 2003, when this industry was about 25,000 people strong, the association already identified this as a key issue because during that time this industry was growing by over a hundred percent per year. But the scale is much different (now). When you’re addressing an industry that is 25,000-people strong and you are worrying about where to get the next 15,000 to 20,000, it’s different in scale from what we have today where we are over 600,000-strong and we are trying to get another 80,000 to 100,000 and probably beyond 100,000 in a couple of years,”

Domingo said.

Domingo said the software should have two components, with the first one involving the trainee taking an assessment test. The test will show which areas need to be improved.

In the second component, Domingo said, the software itself will turn out the modules that are required to improve based on that assessment.

Alfredo Ayala, chairman of Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), said in a press conference at the IOS that despite the global slowdown, the industry expects to end the year with $11 billion in revenues, a 23 percent jump from 2010.

For next year, BPAP expects revenue growth of 21 percent to 22 percent.

Ayala said that BPAP is focusing on the supply side and the education of workers. Industry will spend $100 for 100 hours of training per applicant.

In partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, BPAP will train English teachers to develop their competencies.

The industry has established a standard where applicants would have to undergo a global competitive achievement test to gauge the competencies of college graduates.

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