BPO industry eyes stronger ties with P-Noy

By Alexander Villafania

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – The Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) lauded President Benigno Aquino III for highlighting their industry as among the areas of positive growth in his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The BPAP, the umbrella organization for the country's business process outsourcing or BPO industries, also cited “unprecedented levels of partnership” with the Aquino administration, particularly in the areas of manpower development and foreign investment opportunities.

In yesterday's SONA, President Aquino mentioned the BPO industry’s effects on the employment environment in the Philippines as it hired at least 638,000 people and generated around $11 billion (approximately P462 billion) in 2011.

Aquino further stated that by the time he steps down as President in 2016, there would be 1.3 million Filipinos employed and revenues would hit at least $25 billion, basing his expectations from the predictions of the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

In a phone interview, BPAP President and CEO Benedict Hernandez said the industry has been strongly supported by Aquino in the two years that he has been in office.

“There’s been unprecedented level of partnering with the government and it has resulted in a lot of growth. Every year it gets better and every year’s growth comes from the foundations built from the previous year.”

Hernandez cited the P500 million funding that Aquino set in 2011 to develop “near-hires”, or BPO applicants who initially did not pass the cut. These are types of applicants who only need to develop specific skill sets and be given an opportunity to work in the industry.

Another project is a 21-unit service management program in partnership with four colleges. “We just recently started the pilot test of the program and we’re hoping to develop more talent for high-level outsourced services,” Hernandez said.

The BPAP chief also stressed that while growth has remained positive, he noted that there are still some areas for improvement and continued expansion. He said that their talks with the Aquino government resulted in three key segments that need to be focused in the coming years.

One such area still remains to be talent development. He said that there is still huge demand for professional workers, especially for higher-level services. “Voice services remain strong for our industry but there are new types of services where we need specialists,” Hernandez said.

The other area is fiscal incentives for existing and new foreign investors allowing them to establish and expand their operations in the country.

Hernandez added they are expecting more government support to market the information technology BPO sector to other foreign markets. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and several other European countries are possible target for services by Philippine-based outsource companies.

“The challenge for us and for the government is sustaining this growth and we have to strengthen this partnership with the Philippine government,” Hernandez said.

***

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