Gov't targets 100,000 more Jamaicans for BPO jobs by 2022

Observer writer

Friday, April 12, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — More than 100,000 Jamaicans are being targeted for employment in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector by 2022, as the Government aims to position the industry as a major sector for investment.

The disclosure was made by Denworth Finnikin, National TVET coordinator, who represented minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda at the second Annual Outsource 2 Jamaica Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James yesterday.

Finnikin pointed out that when he first got involved in the industry in 2013, there were just about 13,500 employees and roughly 20 companies.

Today, he said, there are more than 35,000 employees and up to 60 firms.

He said the Ministry of Education is currently working on a number of programmes to better prepare students for work in the sector. These include plans to improve their technical skills, as well as their language and broader communication skills.

Plans are also being finalised to train 10,000 students, in preparation for the BPO industry, in all secondary schools. He said BPO fundamentals will also be introduced for customer engagement operations on a phased basis.

“Recently, we partnered with City and Guilds to certify over 2,200 students in customer service. At present, there are another 2,400 persons enrolled in the Career Advancement Programme, and those 2,400 are just the numbers doing a BPO or related courses, such as customer engagement, customer services support, and data operation,” Finnikin disclosed.

He said that Jamaica has some distinct advantages, and as such, the Government will continue to support the sector.

“We are nearshore to America, we are the largest English-speaking country in this part of this hemisphere, we have a large talent pool, our IT (Information Technology) is safe and secure, and we have a stable network, and importantly, the Government is supporting this sector in many ways,” he argued.

The sector currently supports a wide range of industries from Jamaica, such as telecommunications, banking, insurance, health care, finance and accounting, gaming, and technology.

Companies such as Global Services, itelbpo, IMEX Global, Sutherland Global Services, and Xerox have opened locations on the island and have generated more than US$500 million in revenue.

Meanwhile, Global Services Sector (GSS) Jamaica Programme Director Marjorie Straw said the Global Services Sector Project agreement, which was signed by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke through a US$15-million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank in January, will incorporate a 'strengthened quality assurance mechanism'.

The aim of the project is to strengthen the skills' development framework in an effort to provide the GSS with skilled workers who can respond more effectively to shifts in the industry.

The project will support a strengthened quality assurance mechanism for the skills development system, which will include a mapping of training providers' characteristics and enhancement of quality standards to measure the training provider performa, based on quality of teaching, learning and outcomes. Also in the design is an implementation of new psychometric instruments to measure the level of job readiness of trainees before and after training.

“In other words, training providers will have to be sure that they deliver what they say they will deliver, according to the objectives of the programme. There will almost be like a TripAdvisor system, a five-star rating or less where based on that rating a training provider will be considered seriously to offer training programmes,” Straw explained.

“So we take that measurement very seriously, because it is very important that what we produce in terms of training programmes for the industry, match the industry.”

The programme will have a duration of five years, and will be implemented through partners such as JAMPRO, HEART/NTA, BPIAJ and Ministry of Education.

Programme activities are to start later this year, while training will commence next year.

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