Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Monday, December 15, 2008

No let-up in hiring new 'Pinoy' workers for RP-based BPOs, says TUCP survey

Despite what many fears to be a looming global financial crisis, major Philippine business process outsourcing (BPOs) providers, mostly contact or call center operators, remain as among the top job providers in the country with their unabated recruitment of fresh Filipino workers and staff.

According to a survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), at least 23 BPO providers are still hiring new personnel, mainly contact center agents as well information-technology and administrative support staff.

No less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited BPOs as the one of the major contributors in her Admistration's job-generation program. Under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippines had emerged as a BPO top global destination, second only to India.

The President attributes the rise of the Philippines as a top BPO destination, owing to the Filipinos' world-class skills and proficiency to speak and write in the English language.

"A number of BPO providers are drafting additional staff on account of expansion, while others are requiring fill-in personnel due to attrition, or the loss of employees," TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said.

Among the firms enlisting hiring a new workers are Aegis PeopleSupport Inc., Affiliated Computer Services Inc., APAC Customer Services Inc., Convergys Philippines Services Corp.;

Dell International Services Philippines Inc., Deutsche Knowledge Services Pte. Ltd., eTelecare Global Solutions Inc., Hinduja TMT Ltd.; HSBC Electronic Data Processing Philippines Inc. and ICT Marketing Services Inc.

JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. Philippine Customer Care Center, NCO Group Inc., NuComm International Inc., PeopleTalk Contact Solutions Inc., Stellar Global Solutions Inc., Synnex-Concentrix Corp.;

Telephilippines Inc., TeleTech Holidngs Inc., Telus International Philippines Inc., VXI Global Solutions Inc., West Contact Services Inc. and WinSource Solutions Inc. are all likewise still looking for new staff.

Herrera cited the case of APAC, which is recruiting 1,000 agents and support staff, including those meant for deployment to a new contact center Tacloban City.

He also cited Deutsche Knowledge Services, which is recruiting 900 financial, business and accounting associates to provide back office support to its global financial operations, as well as ICT Marketing Services, which is hiring 400 agents, including those meant for deployment to a new contact center in Cabanatuan City.

Most of the firms require only two years of college education or "some college (units)" to qualify for prospective agents.

He said even high school graduates with exceptional English or foreign language skills could readily qualify for employment, according to Herrera.

The TUCP survey also showed that a number of BPO providers have a "desperate need" for contact center agents or back office staff with bilingual or multilingual skills.

Among these firms enlisting bilingual or multilingual staff are PeopleSupport, Convergys, Synnex and Telephilippines. They are scouting for full-time or part-time staff that can speak Spanish, Cantonese, French or Japanese.

WinSource is also looking for electronic mail support agents who can write in Spanish, Korean or Japanese, as well as outbound contact center agents who can speak Mandarin, Spanish, Korean or Japanese.

Meanwhile, the global manufacturing and technology giant Emerson Electric Co. is also looking for in-house contact center staff that can speak French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Finnish and/or Russian. (PNA)

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Speaking Out: Attraction of BPO industry

Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye - Tempo Editorial

Just a few years back, working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry became the "in" job for young Filipinos hoping to earn impressive paychecks.

Our well-known command of the English language and sunny, good-natured disposition as a people—both requirements to work in the booming industry—were brought to the fore as buildings housing "call centers" mushroomed all over Metro Manila and other major cities.

Today, as the ongoing financial crisis throws its cloak of gloom over the world, the BPO industry has become more than the "in" thing. It is now seen as a ray of hope and another source of resiliency for the Philippine economy.

In addition to the Overseas Filipino remittance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. has called the BPO industry as "one of the bright spots in the economy" that the country could take advantage of. He explained that the Philippine-based BPO centers would maintain their competitiveness as companies become more cost-conscious.

Our other economic managers agree that the local BPO sector is less likely to be affected by the financial crisis because firms based in the United States and Europe would be forced to cut down their costs and outsource their operations in the Philippines where labor is cheaper.

At the onset of her administration, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo saw the bright prospect of the BPO industry. Immediately, President Arroyo launched an ambitious program to create and develop a "cyber-corridor," where investments in information and communications technology are to be concentrated. She complemented this with a manpower training program, quarterbacked by Tesda Chair Augusto Syjuco, which provided scholarship assistance in "call center English".

From eight provinces, the "cyber corridor" has been configured by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and the Commission on Information and Communication Technology Chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, in cooperation with the Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, to now include 23 "next wave centers" -- Tuguegarao, Baguio, Dagupan, Urdaneta, Cabanatuan, Clark, San Fernando in Pampanga, Subic, Cainta, Bacoor, Sta. Rosa, Lipa, Batangas City, Camarines Sur, Legaspi, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cebu, Leyte, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos City.

Among those who were impressed with the President’s vision for the BPO industry and the world class Filipino workforce was Kenneth Tuchman of Teletech Telesystems, Inc. which has since joined the BPO bandwagon.

Starting with only 5,000 employees in 2005, Teletech currently employs 18,500 workers in its 12 customer management centers in Fort Bonifacio, Pasay, Novaliches, Cainta, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Lipa, Cebu, Bacoor, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Sta. Rosa Laguna. Recently, Teletech opened another BPO center in San Fernando in line with its plan to reach an employment goal of 25,000 in 2009.

Tuchman proclaims he has a soft heart for the Philippines. During his meeting with President Arroyo in Davos, Switzerland at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in February 2007, Tuchman revealed that he made his first buck as a teenage entrepreneur in the 70’s importing pukka shells from the Philippines.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila, who, together with this writer, also sits at the Monetary Board, said Teletech’s latest move reaffirms the economic management team’s position that the call center sector would not be entirely affected by the looming global financial crisis.

Others have remained just as bullish in the Philippines. The European financial giant Deutsche Bank plans to increase its workforce in the Philippines to about 2,500 from 1,600 next year.

Chris Sullivan, chief executive officer of Deutsche Knowledge Services Pte. Ltd. (DKS), said that the German bank has migrated more than 30 percent of its global processes in offshore firms.

Sullivan likewise revealed that Deutsche Bank is set to target an increase in the ratio to 80 percent, particularly in the light of the present global financial crisis. He said that of the operations to be brought offshore, 60 to 70 percent would be based in the Philippines.

London-based HSBC also made another happy announcement last week. HSBC country manager Mark Watkinson said they plan to open up 1,000 new jobs in their global services hub near the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City by next year.

Watkinson also revealed that the HSBC is considering other opportunities in the BPO sector aside from voice or call centers, which he said "the Philippines is known to be very good at."

Indeed, while the Philippines may not be immune from the global financial crisis, it certainly has some strong buffers, among them the BPO sector, in the weathering the storm.

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