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More skilled workers needed for BPOs to move to next level

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva December 06,2016 - 09:34 PM

The BPO sector will need more skilled workers especially in the field of software engineering and computer programming to cater to the industry’s higher value services. (INQUIRER FILE)

The BPO sector will need more skilled workers especially in the field of software engineering and computer programming to cater to the industry’s higher value services. (INQUIRER FILE)

The local business process outsourcing sector (BPO) is encouraged to develop more skilled workers and “move up in the value chain.”

Jose Mari Yu, Cebu City’s investment czar, said the BPO sector lacked skilled workers in the local BPO talent pool especially in the fields of software engineering and computer programming.

“This is the highest level in the hierarchy of services. While we are doing good in other levels, it would be nice if we had a complete set of skills,” Yu told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

Voice services

He said 90 percent of the Information Technology-BPO sector in the Philippines, not just in Cebu, are only engaged in voice services, accounting and inventory, among others.

Around 1.2 million workers are presently employed in the IT-BPO sector across the whole country, more than 120,000 of which are employed in Metro Cebu alone.

He said India, China and Thailand are considered better than the Philippines in terms of higher value services.

Yu said this area is underdeveloped because there are very few who are qualified for the work entailed.

Opportunity and math

“The opportunity is there. It’s just that very few people take up related courses because they don’t like Math,” he said, adding that these types of jobs usually involve high skills in the subject.

He said there is a need to overhaul the country’s educational system as well as put more emphasis on mathematical skills in primary and secondary education.

According to data from the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), business- and medicine-related courses are the most popular in college, with those who finished degrees in these fields accounting for 45 percent of the total number of graduates in 2014.

Ched data from 2013, meanwhile, showed that those who took engineering and technology-related courses only made up 11 percent of the 564,769 graduates that year.

More career options

Graduates of science, technology, engineering and math-related courses have many career options to choose from including becoming engineers, computer programmers and web developers, which are only few of the most in-demand jobs in the IT-BPO sector.

Yu said that with the lack of talent in these fields, employability will not be a problem for those who aspire to work in the industry.

Nonetheless, he said the BPO sector is growing nicely due to its performance in accounting and client servicing.

Revenues from the IT-BPO sector, which reached $22 billion in 2015, continue to be among the major drivers of the country’s economic growth.

Industry leaders projected these to increase to more than $25 billion by the end of 2016.


Wilfredo “Jun” Sa-a, Jr., executive director of Cebu Educational Development for Information Technology (CEDF-IT), said more skilled workers are important for the growth of the industry in higher value services.

As a response to this need, he said CEDF-IT launched a pilot training on coding blocks for Cebu City elementary teachers.

Around 30 teachers from Punta Princesa Elementary School are participating in the training which runs from Dec. 5 to 9.


Yu said they are also rolling out a program called LEAP (Learning English Application for Pinoys) to 27 senior high schools in Cebu City as pilot, which is the first of its kind in the country.

Furthermore, they are also working out a training module for college teachers on Service Management Programs, an initiative seen to improve the skills of the BPO workforce.

SMPs, which are also applicable to other industries such as hospitality, usually delve into the study of leadership, customer, service and team building, among others.

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TAGS: BPO, Business Process Outsourcing, Cebu, industry, Information Technology, outsourcing, technology

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