BPO firms map out programs for 2009

MANILA, Philippines-The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) unveiled new programs aimed at boosting the local outsourcing industry’s strengths.

Presenting the plans during the e-Services 2009 conference, BPAP Chief Executive Officer Oscar Sanez said the group is focusing on several areas they see as crucial if the industry wants to move forward. These are language skills, competency assessment, scholarship programs and leadership training.
Sanez said BPAP has been working with organizations like the Technical Education and Skills Develpment Authority (TESDA) and schools to develop the local talent.

This year, the organization plans to grow partner schools offering Advance English Proficiency Training (ADEPT), the executive said. Currently, the organization has collaborated with about 10 schools. It aims to grow this to 110 schools and train over 5,000 students.

The organization aims to have 1,000 partner schools offering the ADEPT program in 2011 and 25,000 graduates, Sanez said.

BPAP also plans to launch a national competency assessment, a certification program for applicants to business process outsourcing companies. This program will also be integrated into schools that plan to create their own business process outsourcing (BPO)-related curriculum.

BPAP said additional budget worth P350 million will also be used for the joint BPAP and TESDA project, dubbed “Pangulong Gloria Scholarship” (PGS), which is designed to train near-hire applicants for contact center operations, software development, transcription and animation.

The PGS started in 2008 with an operating budget of P260 million. Over 40,000 certificates were issued and over 60 percent of near-hires who underwent the training were hired in the program, BPAP said.

BPAP also plans to implement its new Training for Offshoring and Outsourcing Leadership (TOOL) program, which intends to create more managers for BPO firms.

BPAP has worked with the Ateneo De Manila Graduate School of Business and the De La Salle Graduate School of Business for TOOL, said Sañez, adding that the program aims to produce 150 managers by the end of 2009.

“All of these efforts are in line with our goals of increasing the competitiveness of the Philippines in the global offshore outsourcing business. We forecast to achieve $8 billion in revenues this year,” Sanez added.

Meanwhile, the Commission and Information Communications Technology (CICT) also presented the government’s “Next Wave Cities” program, which identifies outsourcing locations outside of Metro Manila and other metropolitan areas like Cebu.

BPAP said about 25 major cities have been identified under this program and another eight cities are being developed as outsourcing hubs.

CICT Chairman Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III said the current high-speed communications infrastructure has allowed these cities to become good locations for outsourcing firms.

Some of the next-wave cities have developed information technology parks through the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which provides incentives for companies located in economic zones.

“These next wave cities will benefit government [because it] creates jobs and boosts the local and national economy through taxes. Investors will also benefit as they have access to skilled workers and other utilities,” Roxas-Chua said.

Despite the global economic recession, the Philippine outsourcing industry remains to be the “sunshine” industry. It earned about $6 billion in revenues last year (26 percent growth over 2007), BPAP said.

The industry has also created over 70,000 jobs last year, and still stands to produce 100,000 people to accommodate demand, Sanez said.

Lauro Vives, founding president of research firm XMG Global, said the Philippines could remain competitive if it has access to talent, niche offerings and vertical industries.

The local industry should also considering innovative “pricing models” to entice foreign clients.

Vives suggested that the local industry should start integrating talent pools from the Visayas and Mindanao regions.