We are not cutting out BPO jobs- Gloria Henry

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) Gloria Henry has said that despite all the talk of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the changing nature of work, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for many years to come will continue to be a viable entity. This will be ensured by retooling and preparing segments of the sector to upscale.

Speaking at 'The Future of Work Conference' held at the AC Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday last, Henry shared that the focus of her organisation is to find their rightful place in being a part of the skills development agenda and to help Jamaicans tapped into the skills they need to get jobs in the digital age.

“We are not cutting out BPO jobs; we are setting the foundation for existing BPOs to move up the value chain in accessing higher-value contracts in areas such as information technology (IT) helpdesk, accounts payable and receivables, payroll processing, quality management, virtual assistance, data analytics among others,” she stated.

“Jobs matter! For almost all of us they are the primary sources of income. They can also be a source of self-esteem, social interaction and self-fulfilling purpose. The skills behind jobs remain the principal drivers of increasing productivity and ultimately wages,” she said.

She argued that with the changing times ahead, Jamaica should definitely be positioned to capture a greater market share of the Global Service Sector (GSS). She noted also that amidst the concerns of some jobs becoming obsolete within the next decade, the BPO sector is getting itself ready to upskill the talent within what many people deem a low skill sector.

“We are looking to upskill through talent within the BPO sector, to allow them the opportunity to move up the value chain even as we are diversifying the portfolio of services produced here in Jamaica.

We are deliberately going after higher value type work to come to Jamaica but we have to ensure that we have the talent to match that kind of work. Some of the people who are currently employed in basic customer service can be upskilled to provide complex works like data analytics, finance and accounting and legal process outsourcing given that they are trainable as they can be trained to develop those skills,” she said.

Henry in defending the relevance of the BPO sector said that they are under no threat from digitalisation, as this move will actually create more opportunities for them.

“If we look at most of the projections from Gartner, KPMG and from many of the most established analyst out there, they will tell you that digitalisation/ artificial intelligence will create more opportunities. What we don't want is the displacement of some of our workers. Especially those who are not necessarily talented, particularly those at the entry level.”

She added that her organisation is instead working feverishly to avoid any occurrence of this and in extension welcomes the Government's proactive support of the GSS project. The GSS she said will provide that partnership in creating opportunities for people to be trained, including those new and those working to be upscaled.

She shared that the BPIAJ, who will not be lost in the venture, has also started to take the necessary steps in ensuring that members of their sector will not be left behind.

“We are working on a project through the BPIAJ to support the companies themselves so that they too can follow a particular roadmap to upskill themselves. Regrettably for people who can't fall in line or have the talent, they are going to have to look for other types of opportunities; though the general aim is for no one to be displaced,” she said.


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