New technologies not a threat to BPO jobs, says industry group
(The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Instead of massive job losses, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry will continue to employ thousands of Filipinos annually in the coming years amid emergence of new technologies as global demand is expected to remain strong.

The Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) allayed yesterday fears of massive layoffs in the local BPO industry as a result of the emergence of digital technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

“What we expect for the contact center sector is that even with the efficiencies of automation, we are adding 435,000 more jobs between last year and end of 2022. Every year, we’re going to average 73,000 new jobs after we factor in the impact of automation,” CCAP chairman Benedict Hernandez said.

“The global market, or what is being outsourced, is still growing. The Philippines has always been growing faster than the global market, that is why we became this large player globally in the past several years because we continue to actually grow our market share from 12.7 percent to 15.5 percent. The fact that the global market is growing (and) we ourselves are growing in terms of our market share is enough to create that net growth after the impact of automation,” Hernandez added.

CCAP president Jojo Uligan said rather than being laid off, BPO employees, particularly those which are in the “low skilled tasks” job type, would be trained to become capable for the mid-skilled and high skilled tasks.

“We’re focusing on upskilling our workers. So we need to teach them certain proficiency in technology, analytical skills and problem solving. Those jobs that are simple, as how we defined them, doesn’t mean that we’re going to take them out. We’re going to train them and accept them so they can start doing mid to more complex type of work,” Uligan said.

CCAP sees the share of low skilled tasks in the industry’s overall employment declining to 27 percent by 2022 from 47 percent last year.

Low skilled tasks are defined as simple entry level and process driven tasks that require little abstract thinking or autonomy while mid and high level tasks are seen as complicated tasks that require experience, abstract thinking, situational response, specialized expertise and autonomy.

Hernandez said while many see the emergence of digital technologies as a threat, particularly on job creation, CCAP sees it as an opportunity to drive enhanced experiences to clients and customers.

“When you think about our growth forecast moving forward, we’re forecasting an eight percent growth annually to hit 1.2 million jobs by 2022. If you now look back at the last five years, we’ve been growing 15 to 18 percent every year. So moving into this year and the next couple of years, we’ve already factored in a more tempered but still high single-digit growth environment,” he said.

By 2022, CCAP expects the sector’s revenue to rise to $20.4 billion from $12.8 billion last year.

To sustain the country’s position as among the top BPO destinations in the world in the coming years, CCAP urged the government to provide additional incentives to investors as well as more investments in developing local talent.

“The most important thing that we need to continue to work on and invest more is education. This is a market that is growing globally, it is a market that already prefers the Philippines as its partner. So all we need to do is produce the capability and the talent to catch that demand. It is certainly important that we actually enjoy a very competitive environment, both in terms of ease of doing business and the cost of doing business,” Hernandez said.

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