Fewer newly grads prefer working at BPOs—study


In spite of an increasing demand for contact center jobs here in the Philippines, only four percent of fresh graduates wanted to join the industry, a small turnout that comes amid concerns that they are not properly equipped for the job, a recent study showed.

This reflects a general trend across different industries that showed two out of three fresh Filipino graduates in the past two years were not ready with the necessary skills and training for the jobs that they want, according to a global firm called Aspiring Minds, which helps companies and institutions measure employability, among other things.

The study is based on analysis of 60,000 fresh graduates from more than 80 colleges across the country in the past two years. The analysis and findings of the report are based on the results of these students on AMCAT: Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test, which is the world’s largest standardized employability test. A preview of the findings was given in a press briefing on Thursday.

With a more comprehensive picture of the results yet to be released, the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), which represents a part of the IT-BPM industry that accounts for the largest employment base, said that this so far confirms what the industry already knows.

“The conclusions are not new but now there’s a wealth of data. So now the discussions are data-driven,” CCAP Chairman Benedict Hernandez told reporters on the sidelines of a press briefing on Thursday.

In the past two to three years, he said that CCAP has seen an employability rate of only eight to 10 percent, a low figure which is still an improvement from earlier years that saw numbers reaching six to eight percent. Eventually, CCAP wants that to hit 15 percent, but there is still no clear target year for that, he said.

To address this, the industry has voluntarily conducted near-hire training, which subjects job applicants to weeks of training in order to prepare them for the job. Apart from this, the industry has also collaborated with government and academic institutions to help create more skills-based workers.

“The industry has always figured out a way to grow. That’s why we have a near-hire training. It creates more effort and more spend of our companies. But what choice do you have? That’s why I’m not surprised when we do company surveys, recruitment is their number one challenge,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Industry interventions, along with constant collaboration with public and private institutions, have helped improved the employability rates significantly to 40 to 70 percent, he said.

“How fast can we scale those interventions? It’s proven that they work. How can we multiply those very successful results across the Philippines? That’s the question,” he said.

Only four percent wanted contact center jobs

In terms of job aspirations, only four percent of graduates surveyed by the study wanted to have jobs in the contact center industry, representing the smallest share in the pool tied with the four percent who wanted to be chefs.

On the other hand, 16 percent of fresh graduates wanted to go teaching, accounting for the largest share, followed by those who want to have administrative jobs (15 percent), and those who want to pursue business (12 percent).

The fresh graduates were assessed based on four skills: language, cognitive skills, behavorial/soft skills and functional skills. According to Aspiring Minds, most of the candidates show deficiency in required cognitive skills, which most employers see as an indication of trainability on the job. It did not say how the Philippines fared in the other categories.

Moreover, since the study surveyed graduates that were not covered by the K+12 program, the proponents of the study said the impact of the program was not taken into account in the results.

Further details of the study — such as a comparative analysis of employability of fresh graduates from the country’s top fifty schools from the rest, or even a comparison of metro vs. non-metro graduates — would be revealed on October 11 and 12 in an annual industry conference in Boracay. /jpv