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PH BPO Needs more than just English Skills

by: Sarah Joson

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | Outsourcing News |

Business process outsourcing (BPO) firms in the Philippines are now looking for candidates who not only speak the English language properly, but also fair well in other crucial skills such as the ability to comprehend new, complex information and perform computer-related tasks efficiently.

Current challenges of the Philippines' BPO sector

An article posted at Rappler.com dissects the current challenges of the country’s BPO sector. Benedict Hernandez, President and CEO of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), said there are a lot of job opportunities in the BPO sector today - the problem is the job-skills mismatch. This could affect the growth of the industry. Hernandez said the Filipinos’ ability communicate in English is equally important to having the right set of technical skills and basic core competences, but the latter cannot be taught through training.

Many fail to meet the industry’s standards.
BPAP’s official screening test called the Global Competitiveness Assessment Tool (GCAT) determines if candidates fit the bill in terms of conduct, learning aptitude, politeness, compassion, and dependability. In an effort to identify the top performers in BPOs, BPAP performed a sample test on 2,500 employees using GCAT. To have a more concrete idea on what’s causing the problem, 19,700 students from 72 colleges were likewise tested.  Hernandez said only five percent were able to meet the qualifications of the industry across all segments.

Other sectors are facing the same problem.
People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) President Arthur Luis P. Florentin said experience is not enough to make it in the industry. In fact, it is not a requirement in many positions. Based on the 2010 PMAP Manpower - Critical Skills Survey where 607 businesses across 28 different industries participated, 87% said they were only requiring two years or less in experience, and 50% said they don’t require it. The study also showed that 65% of job openings were for entry level positions, but candidates fell short on certain skills and knowledge.

Moreover, Florentin said high-valued services related to IT, sales, and finance fall in the 88% bracket, which require college level graduates or candidates who have attained a high level of education.

Government proposed K-12.
One of the government’s resolutions is to improve the students’ basic skills, which is why they came up with the K-12 program which means adding two more years in the curriculum this year.

According to Maria Criselda R. Sy, one of the directors at the Department of Labor and Employment’s Bureau of Local Employment division, the program aims to make students more employable so they can land a suitable job right after high school. Furthermore, she said additional support from major industries is needed for students to learn and practice the skills required.

However, other experts said adding two more years in school will not solve the problem. In fact, Florentin said it probably has something to do with the educational system itself. BPAP came up with a talent development program worth P668 million. They are hoping that 70% of those who were nearly hired become more employable. This will then boost the talent supply of the country, adding 74,000 more candidates. Hernandez said this program can help the industry in reaching the US$25 billion revenue target by 2016.

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