There have been so much hype and quibbles about the emerging new industry in the Philippines called Call Center Industry (CCI), most specifically Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). The Internet is calling it a phenomenal industry, newspapers banner it as the trend of the future, and even our government is giving heads to it as the economic savior.
So many statistics have been released by various grops of economic monitors. Some boggies the imagination, other contradictory. Is the CCI really the answer to the national economic slumps? What is its effect to the socioeconomic environment? Is it good or bad?
SURVEYS AND FORECASTS
Research by independent market analyst, Datamonitor, reveals that the number of call center agents based in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to grow throughout the next five years, driven by the low costs, ever increasing language skills, and internal demand. According to Datamonitor, “Asian markets including India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore will be driven by internal demand in additional to a focus on language capabilities and comparative advantages from price standpoint” Datamonitor also noted that “new locations such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand would continue to adopt Asian outsourcing markets, in addition to mainstay clients, which include the UK and the US.”
Southeast Asia dominates the list of the 2005 index, with the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapre, Thailand and Indonesia filling up the to 15 positions. Additional reports by the survey states that the Philippines is a favourite of foreign investments for off shoring because of the English-proficient workforce, despite its political fluidity and infrastructure frailty. A Canadian market research company, XMG, stated that the Philippines is capable of exceeding India, in the call center industry, as market leader, as early as 2008.
So where do we get people to fill up the seat?
NEW GRADUATES OR CAREER SHIFTERS?
According to conservative expert estimates, for the Philippines CCI to grow into a million workers by 2010, the industry needs to recruit an everage of 200,000 additional workers each year; a figure some industry experts say is quite difficult to achieve at the current trend. Even if the industry achieves half that target, recruiting about 100,000 new workers each year for the industry would mean a significant number will have to come from career shifters – licensed professionals who have specific career specialties but opted to shirt work due to personal or financial concerns.
Today, some BPO companies are studying specific program opotions to attract career shifters into their fold. Many companies, however, hire career shifters as they come and where they are needed. Although there are still conservatives who believe that fresh graduates offer more than career shifters. Says the president of Me American International Group (AIG) Business Processing Service Inc.. Chris Duncan-Webb, "We prefer fresh graduates. For us there is really no great advantage in hiring career shifters. It is much easier to assimilate new graduates into our culture than import from other companies with a different culture.
Ideally. companies are hiring newly-graduates for the simple reason that they want to train them fresh from the drawing boards. Duncan-Webb adds: "We shall continue our policy of recruiting new graduates although occasionally we will recruit career shifters if they fit our profile. I am not sure if the number of career shifters applying will increase but I think probably so because BPO is a new and exciting industry."
There have been no significant studies with regard to the number of career shifters in the outsourcing industry. It is, however, a logical conclusion owing from reports of various groups like DataMonitor and Jobstreet that the number is increasing every year.
Many companies prefer to hire workers who already have experiences in technical as well as management areas. Professionals in the field of engineering, information technology, sales and marketing. industrial management are especially adept to the job and could have distinct advantages in working in call centers.
Indeed. some service providers need people who are good in conversation. in mental calculation.. and in psychology. These are specified areas where career shifters are well accepted. Because shifting to a BPO career seems to be a new trend, however, human-resource experts can't seem to agree on whether or not it will accelerate in the next few years or on how it will impact the Philippine corporate economy.
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) seems to be betting on career shifters to meet the country's job targets in the BPO and cyberservices industry. CICT estimates that more than 40,000 career shifters are going to join the cyberservices industry until 2010. The Commission also expects career shifters to make up 30 percent of new employees in the medical transcription business from 2008 to 2010.
The current situation is that newly-graduates are filling up the seats of phone-operating rank-and-file service and information providers, while career shifters are absorbing the vacuum of supervisory positions in the field of technology. engineering and management, and even in medicine where medical and diagnostic transcription is now an emerging online business.
Most experts believe the impact will probably be broad-based and will hit small and medium enterprises the hardest. Career shifters in the call centers and BPO industries would come from small-and-medium-scale (S&M) businesses that cannot afford to pay high wages and provide attractive benefits packages like the big companies. If this trend accelerates, it will make things more difficult for the S&Ms, which is where the bulk of Philippine economy lies..
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