Business Process Outsourcing - New Opportunities for Jobs

Administrator on October 23, 2014, 1:17 pm 937 3
Business Process Outsourcing - New Opportunities for Jobs

As traditional jobs become scarce attention is now turning to opportunities that are outside the usual employment arena - outsourcing. The kind of outsourcing that is gaining traction among job seekers as well as employers is business process outsourcing (BPO), where certain aspects of business operations are contracted to independent workers, mainly overseas. Jamaica has been positioning itself as a viable source of skilled, trainable work force that can handle call center, human resources, accounting, customer service and other functions on behalf of large overseas employers. The increased telephone and internet penetration across the island has also helped the growing popularity of BPO.

Jamaica has become a leader among countries in the English speaking Caribbean with more than 10,000 persons working full time as agents in business processing for offshore employers. Approximately 26 offshore firms are currently employing thousands of Jamaicans in this area. Jamaica has tremendous advantages in the BPO sector with its near shore access to the United States, a labour force that consists of secondary and tertiary level graduates, and a low attrition rate.

Typically, companies providing BPO services in Jamaica are Free Zone type entities, notwithstanding their physical location. In keeping with the Free Zone Act, these companies are eligible for a number of benefits that are also attractive to offshore employers. BPO operations in Jamaica are found in designated Free Zones in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Portmore.

Recent projections from the International Data Corporation (IDC) are that the worldwide BPO market will see annual growth of nine percent bringing earnings to just below US $1 Trillion by 2014. Business process outsourcing to offshore locations is also expected to grow at a cumulative growth rate of 25 per cent per year with earnings at US $135 billion by the same year. This is big money and the Latin American and Caribbean economies stand to benefit from earnings of US $2.5 billion from the BPO sector. In reality, this level of earnings represents a relatively small slice of the BPO pie, at 5.8 per cent. Opportunities for growth however exist and the same projections place growth at 20 per cent per year.

Research and consultations done by the Planning Institute of Jamaica during 2009 and 2010 identified two critical impediments to the growth in Jamaica's BPO sector, these are the absence of relevant training and lack of incentives toward developing BPOs. For Jamaica to capitalise on the opportunities offered by this growing BPO market, the island's ICT sector must also grow by at least 25 per cent annually to retain market share. Language capabilities would also need to be sharpened as Jamaica seeks to compete with countries like Costa Rica which boasts bi-lingual capabilities in Spanish and English.

Further stimulus for the expansion of a BPO sector in Jamaica can be driven by the Government of Jamaica and certain tax incentives may be tools that can expedite this growth. Other tools open to the Government is the extended use of the amended Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act to encourage developers to build a BPO industry. Job growth is certain to occur and the resulting revenue to Government may be as high as US $28 million net.

Business Process Outsourcing is here to stay and the prospects for the world economy in the near future looks bright. Jamaica can capitalise on this growth by positioning itself as the leader with an Internationally competitive edge given its geographic location. An enabling legal framework, a robust ICT sector, a skilled and trainable workforce, as well as great incentives are some of the ingredients necessary for BPO growth in Jamaica.

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