CEBU City moved up one rank in the list of established outsourcing destinations worldwide, according to a study by investment advisory firm Tholons.

Cebu is now ranked 8th in the Tholons Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations Report for 2013, according to the Cebu Investment and Promotions Center (CIPC).

Aside from Cebu, six other cities were included in the list. Manila is now 3rd, moving up from 4th last year. Davao ranked number 70; Sta. Rosa, Laguna, 84; Iloilo City, 93; Bacolod City, 94; and Baguio City, 99.

Availability and quality of workers were among the criteria in selecting the top outsourcing destinations. CIPC estimates that there are about 95,000 people employed in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Cebu.

It also said that the average of 24,000 college graduates produced every year, complemented by skilled young individuals who want to start their careers in the BPO industry, helped Cebu strengthen its reputation as a BPO destination.

CIPC managing director Joel Mari Yu said the improvement is a “big thing” to celebrate in the face of challenges in manpower availability.

“The primary roadblock for Cebu to advance higher is the lack of qualified manpower,” Yu said in a phone interview. “We have good infrastructure, we have demonstrated our capability in almost all IT spectrums, but we fall short in providing the industry with qualified IT/BPO workers.”

Yu said it might take quite a time for Cebu to land on the fifth spot. But he said industry stakeholders are conducting recruitment outside Cebu to address the

industry’s workforce requirements.

Yu said that in 2012 alone, about 20,000 to 25,000 jobs were generated by new companies that set up businesses in Cebu.

Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology Inc. (Cedf-it) executive director Jun Sa-a said Cebu deserves to be promoted in the 2013 Tholons list as it has proven it could scale and improve the quality of its manpower.

“This is a proof that the Philippines is giving India a serious challenge in this industry,” Sa-a said.

Jerry Rapes, chief executive officer of Exist Global shared the sentiment. He attributed Cebu’s improved ranking to the hard work and collective effort of industry players, government and the academe.

“This is a validation that what we are doing is good but we should not just maintain that standing, we should move forward,” Rapes said in a phone interview.

Rapes said Cebu should not be overconfident as there are larger cities that are cornering a big part of the market and there are cities behind it that are catching up.

“Cebu continues to have challenges to face before it can become the top business process outsourcing destination, especially because the competition in many surrounding areas of Asia is fierce. Cebu will have to work to continue to build its reputation as an outsourcing leader to make it to the top,” the CIPC said.