BPOs unfazed by pending US bill vs job outsourcing
MANILA, Philippines — Business process outsourcing (BPO) firms in the country remain unfazed by the recent call of US President Barack Obama to stop the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries like the Philippines.
The Business Processing Association of the Philippines even projected to generate an additional 3.3 million jobs by the end of 2016 and to attain leadership in four areas touted to be “fast-growing services” like healthcare information management, finance and accounting, human resources and creative process.
“Based on our experience, we believe outsourcing actually makes US businesses competitive. It, in fact, allows them to increase the employment in their areas of core competence,” BPAP chairman Alfredo Ayala told reporters Monday at a press conference organized by BPAP and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
In his State of the Union Address, Obama announced his support to the pending bill in the US Congress, which would remove the government incentives for companies, which continued to outsource jobs to countries like the Philippines.
Some government officials had expressed fears that the “anti-BPO” call of Obama would severely affect the BPO industry in the country.
Ayala said the passage of the bill would be “unlikely,” believing that US companies would not be able to survive if they stopped outsourcing to the Philippines.
Alejandro Melchor, executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office of the DoST, said the BPO firms were not bothered by Obama’s statement.
“If it was really a cause for concern, I would be getting calls from my colleagues by now. But they were not at all worried,” Melchor said.
He said the bill, even if passed by the US congress, would not change the behavior of the companies because the benefits they have been getting from outsourcing have been far higher than the incentives that the US government has been providing or would provide them.
He said the cost of hiring a Filipino call center worker would only be one-fifth of the cost of hiring an American call center worker.
“The US will continue to do what is best for its companies,” Ayala said.
But Ayala said they have laid down contingency plans like pursuing markets in other countries like Australia and United Kingdom if the BPOs in the country were affected by US policies.
With their optimism, Melchor and Ayala projected that the BPO’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product would increase from 5.4 percent in 2011 to 8.6 percent.
“We believe we can generate $25 billion in export revenue, 1.3 million in direct jobs and over 3 million indirect jobs by 2016,” Ayala said.
Melchor said the BPO’s expansion to other services would also require the creation of new technical courses for high school graduates.
In his response, Joel Villanueva, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) director general, said since new skills and competencies of the workforce would be needed in the BPO’s expansion, the agency would develop new training programs for call center agents, trainers and those engaged in non-voice-based skills.
Non-voice-based skills include software development, animation, medical transcription, game development and legal transcription.
To strengthen its partnership with BPOs, Tesda recently released a P500-million stimulus fund to BPAP for training aimed at creating 65,000 new jobs.
“We will review our product mix to focus on other BPO-related skills that have equally high demand such as software development and other skills as may be defined by the industry,” Villanueva said.
“This way, we can diversify and develop more skills and spread out opportunity for employment in other emerging areas,” he added.
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