BPOs leaving Metro Manila

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet —The Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) industry was set to challenge China as the world’s biggest BPO employer, but the work force could not supply the demand for skilled workers, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. 

He said vacancies in calls centers, back office and customer-related services has been growing every year and some BPO companies have started moving out to major cities outside of Metro Manila where skilled workers were available.

“Some BPO companies are exploring ‘second wave’ cities such as Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Bacolod where they could recruit personnel,” Abad said.

From about 2,400 workers in 2001, the BPO industry now employs an estimated 200,000 in 120 companies. The Philippines has overtaken Malaysia and India and is set to challenge Chinas the world’s biggest BPO employer.

The Philippines earned $11 billion and employed 900,000 people in 2010. Industry experts estimate the gross revenue to $25 billion by 2016.

Abad said some BPO companies have entered into partnerships with state universities and colleges to train students on particular skills to become call center agents.

He said the government has also considered recalling Filipinos working abroad and provide them with skills on animation, medical transcription and web design to close the gap between supply and demand.

“The government is heavily investing in upgrading technical-vocational centers in order to be able to train potential BPO workers,” Abad said.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said Baguio City, which was one of the “first wave” cities in the march of BPO companies to the countryside, has benefited from its being an educational center in northern Luzon.

He said from two call centers in 2010, the city now has eight BPO catering to various clients in different parts of the world.

“The operation of call centers in the different parts of the city helped increase the economic activities at night and attracted skilled workers from different parts of the country,” Domogan said.

Records at the public employment and services office show the number of BPO workers have increased from 2,000 in 2010 to nearly 10,000 this year with starting salaries ranging from P20,000 to P25,000 a month.

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