For ambitious new workers, call centers losing sheen

Accelerated economic growth was echoed by the office property market, where high occupancy levels were sustained by BPOs.

Despite an increasing demand from the business process outsourcing industry, fresh graduates don’t want the job anymore.

According to a report from global firm Aspiring Minds, only four percent of fresh graduates have expressed willingness to join the industry, the single biggest private employer in the country.

The study noted 16 percent of fresh graduates wanted to teach, followed by those who wanted to have administrative jobs (15 percent), and those who wanted to pursue business (12 percent).

Yet, different industries are seeing a mismatch in skills among potential workers. According to the report, 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 wanted.

The India-based Aspiring Minds helps companies and institutions measure employability.

The study is based on an analysis of 60,000 new graduates from more than 80 colleges across the country in the past two years. The students underwent the Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test, the world’s largest standardized employability test. A preview of the findings was given in a press briefing on Thursday.

A more comprehensive picture of the results has yet to be released, but the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said that this confirmed what the industry already knows. CCAP represents a part of the bigger Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines.

“The conclusions are not new, but now there’s a wealth of data. Now, the discussions [should be] data driven,” CCAP chair Benedict Hernandez told reporters on the sidelines of a press briefing on Thursday.

In the past two to three years, he said CCAP said employability rate in this sector was only at 8-10 percent, albeit an improvement from earlier years.

He said CCAP wanted the rate to increase to 15 percent to coincide with the sector’s boom.

To address the problem, the industry has been conducting near-hire training, which subjects applicants to weeks of training in order to prepare them for the job.

The sector has also collaborated with government and academic institutions to help develop the skills and talents of workers.

“The industry has always figured out a way to grow,” Hernandez said. He said companies had been putting more effort and resources.

“But what choice do [we] have? That’s why I’m not surprised that when we do company surveys, recruitment is the number one challenge,” he added.

In some cases, industry interventions have helped improve the employability rates significantly to 40 to 70 percent, he noted.

“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.

The Aspiring Minds report assessed the graduates based on: language, cognitive skills, behavioral or soft skills and functional skills. The study also revealed most of the candidates showed deficiency in required cognitive skills, which most employers see as an indication of trainability.

The subjects in the study, however, have not gone through the K plus 12 program, the government’s solution to the widening job-skills mismatch.

Further details of the study would be revealed on Oct. 11 and 12 in an annual industry conference in Boracay.