Cebu City inmates finish courses on web design, call center work-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Sunday, September 1, 2013
INMATES as call center agents? If the idea sounds far-fetched, one only has to meet 44 inmates at the Cebu City Jail who completed a finishing course for call center agents.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who was in Cebu Friday as keynote speaker at the closing day of the International Contact Center Conference and Expo, admitted that having a contact center operating inside a jail facility will not be happening soon, but hopes inmates who have received training could gain employment once they are released from jail.
He met the 44 inmates Friday who became the first batch to complete the program in Cebu. Aside from Cebu, the same program is also being offered at the Metro Manila Integrated Jail and Taguig City Jail.
Cayetano said some jail facilities in the US and Canada have programs for inmates working as contact center agents and hopes such a thing could be done here. But until it can be done, his program in partnership with Informatics, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology aims to train inmates with skills they can use to apply for jobs in business process management companies in need of qualified workers.
There are 200 inmates currently training in a finishing course for call center agents, creative web design, web development and computer hardware servicing.
He said receiving the certificate from Tesda means they are all employable.
The next step, he said, is to make sure that inmates who have completed their training and are released from jail get accepted into firms, raising concerns they may be discriminated if firms realize they have spent time in jail.
Work while serving time
Cayetano though hopes to pursue the idea of qualified inmates doing contact center work while serving time. He said getting the cooperation of business process management companies to support the program and talk about their requirements, as well as threshing out security concerns is important for such a program to take off.
In areas where such arrangements are in place, Cayetano said the inmates do not take calls but respond to chats and emails, which are easier for security officers to monitor and detect irregularities.
In his speech at the ICCCE, Cayetano lauded the contact center industry for bringing about the change that the country has been experiencing in recent years.
He told those present that BPO workers have become empowered, not just to spend their salaries and boosting the economy, but by speaking out on social media and speaking their minds about what they expect from the government.
He noted that the high demand for BPO services has boosted construction and retail revenues and the well-performing industry has paved the way for Filipinos to earn more and hold high positions in the country and around Asia.
Talent supply is one of the main concerns the industry is facing and programs that support the development of more qualified workers is what industry stakeholders keep asking from the government.
Out of school
Cayetano said that the program also serves another purpose–to inspire those who are out of school to try looking for the cheaper or free government training programs and build a career in the BPO industry.
He explained that if inmates can be trained to do contact center work, there is no reason out-of-school youth cannot do the same.
Contact Center Association of the Philippines president Benedict Hernandez urged members to take an active role in the organization and help bring the industry to even better heights.
He asked them to pledge their time, effort and resources to give back to an industry that has enabled them to have high-earning careers in the country.
For his part, CCAP director Jeff Uthoff admitted that he first thought of CCAP as a “social club” among industry stakeholders until he became a member of the board.
He said the association is a voice for the industry in getting the government and academe to help them meet their requirements.
He urged contact center companies to get involved with CCAP and make sure they do not get complacent with the Philippines being in the top position for contact centers four years in a row.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2013.