Upskilling for business process industry workforce emphasised

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), Gloria Henry, is emphasising the importance of upskilling workers within the sector to respond to the increasing technological demands of the marketplace.

Speaking recently at a specially arranged forum, Henry noted that the business process industry incorporates 80 per cent customer service; 18 per cent knowledge process, which includes shared services; and two per cent information technology (IT) outsourcing.

She pointed out that IT outsourcing is a critical focus area as the sector aims to move up the value chain.

“That two per cent that we have in Jamaica is very critical and very important, as it includes software development, mobile application development, and gamification. So we have some very important projects being done right here in Jamaica as it relates to this area,” Henry informed.

She outlined that an IT firm, located within the Montego Bay Free Zone, recently developed a software that is serving to drive logistics in the United States.

The BPIAJ president said software development has also been undertaken for Microsoft, and the Government of The Bahamas, adding that other IT-related projects are being considered.

“We are also working with HEART Trust/NTA to create a training incubator technology innovation hub in Gordon Town, as they have provided space there that will also be used to pilot new projects in IT outsourcing, through partnerships with the Jamaica Computer Society and other stakeholders,” Henry further highlighted.

She informed that discussions have commenced with United Kingdom (UK)-based firm Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, to help in designing the hub and facilitating opportunities for IT firms in Kingston, and wider communities to access the global services sector's offerings.

The BPO president noted, however, that some projects have been lost to countries such as India because Jamaica does not have skill sets to expand in certain areas.

“Once a company comes and is happy with a test or pilot, they then want to scale up. But we are not graduating enough engineers and persons with computer skills to respond to the demands of the sector or to grow the industry,” the president explained.

“We have to be deliberate and intentional in our strategies to support the IT sector. We must be intentional about how we train persons within the institutions in the STEM areas [science, technology, engineering and mathematics],”Henry stated.

She argued that countries incorporating the sector will have to differentiate themselves by the skill sets and quality of their human capital.

“So the schools will have to play a greater role in helping the sector to thrive and to grow. They have to start training persons not just academically, but with the ability to think… persons with design mindsets who are able to innovate and deal with complex issues and complex communication,” the BPIAJ president expressed.

She added that persons must be trained to be socially intelligent, and able to stimulate interactions and address issues that are non-scripted.

“They have to be able to be adaptive and flexible in a world of work that is global… dealing with persons from across several jurisdictions,” she further said.

Henry said the Global Services Sector (GSS) Project is a means of responding to the demands of the sector by identifying the skills needed, setting standards, charting career pathways, and supporting the implementation and design of a talent platform.

The five-year project, being financed through Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan support of US$15 million, is focused on upskilling and preparing persons working in the sector for higher-end jobs in areas such as information technology-enabled services (ITES), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), and legal process outsourcing (LPO).

The project will strengthen the skills development framework and is intended to increase employment within the outsourcing sector from 36,000 to 50,000 by 2023.


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