Cebu City to train 5,000 scholars for BPO, KPO jobs

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

STAKEHOLDERS will continue to sell Cebu as a call center destination, but they also want to improve and increase the pool of highly skilled workers with technical knowledge so Cebu can lead in the booming knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) sector.

To help achieve this, Cebu City Hall will focus its call center training program on its 5,000 college scholars, after a recent study by Tholons showed the shortage of qualified employees continues to be a major problem of business process outsourcing (BPOs) companies here.

Citing the initial results of the Tholons study, Cebu Investment and Promotions Center (CIPC) Managing Director Joel Mari Yu said the recruitment of qualified employees is still a major obstacle in maximizing the potentials of BPOs as economic driver.


“We will continue selling Cebu as a call center destination because the skill level needed for this sector is easy for us to accomplish… However, we need to go up the value chain of skills and knowledge because the KPOs are strict in the recruitment.

They need people with special skills and a very much higher level of knowledge, so we need to build capability in this area,” Yu told Sun.Star Cebu.

He declined from disclosing the full details of the study, and said they will let Tholons, an advisory company on global outsourcing and investments, present the results before government agencies, the private sector, academe and other stakeholders later this month.

Yu, who drafted the terms of reference of the Tholons study, said highly skilled workers who have technical knowledge on certain fields will help make Cebu a leader in the KPO sector, which includes legal and medical transcription companies and those dealing with data from banking and finance, accounting and engineering firms.

He cited Lexmark, International Business Machines (IBM) and JP Morgan and Chase as among the KPOs in Cebu that need highly skilled and knowledgeable employees.

While call centers require from applicants at least two years in college and English proficiency, KPOs want their workers to have finished a college degree and have technical knowledge in certain fields.

Starting this summer, the City Government will give its scholars free training on English proficiency to help them qualify for call center jobs, at the very least, and at the same time help the BPO and KPO companies acquire the manpower they need, Vice
Mayor Joy Augustus Young said.

Young and six BPO companies agreed on this during a meeting yesterday, after Tholons recommended that improvement in the quality of BPO workers, specifically those working in call centers should continue.

In an interview yesterday, Young said they will offer free classes in English to the City’s college scholars, but the program will be limited to those who are taking a four-year course.

The City will also tap BPOs to train public high school teachers in English, who in turn will impart what they have learned to their students in special classes outside the regular school hours.

“If we train high school students, we’re not sure if they will proceed to college so we decided to focus on our scholars who are already in first year college. They will only have to wait one more year to be able to get a job in call centers because the minimum requirement is only two years,” Young said.

Yu welcomed Young’s plan, saying this is a step in the right direction if the City wants to adopt the recommendations that Tholons made after its study.

The study was conducted last year to help stakeholders develop a roadmap for the Cebu information technology (IT) industry.

Among the things that CIPC wanted to find out is how the market has evolved since the BPOs came to Cebu about a decade ago, what kind of skills are available and what the competition—India, China and Vietnam—is doing to improve their own IT industry.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2011.

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