BPAP: Work Abroad. Live Here.

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on April 14, 2012

Speaking to IT-BPO industry executives, government officials, and industry suppliers in a recent briefing, Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) president and CEO Benedict Hernandez said the industry will hire approximately 120,000 Filipinos this year in a variety of increasingly value-driven segments such as healthcare, engineering, animation, and accounting.

The Philippines has been the global market leader in providing customer relationship management (CRM) voice services since 2010. Now, non-voice services are on a tear. In one example, Mr. Hernandez said the health information management sector has captured a third of its segment globally and is growing almost terrifyingly fast. According to the BPAP chief, that’s exactly as things should be as the Philippine IT-BPO industry expands and matures.

“Our goal is for non-voice segments to grow faster. As such, we are in need of nurses, animators, game developers, accountants, and engineers to fill in the non-voice segments of the industry,” Mr. Hernandez said.

Indeed, the IT-BPO industry and BPAP appear to be taking its oft-stated goal of generating 1.3 million jobs by 2016 very seriously, with at least nine certification, training, and other HR development programs in place. And to increase awareness of global career opportunities in the industry among new graduates and their parents, BPAP has just launched a career portal called “Work Abroad. Live Here.”

The portal, managed by TeamAsia (Disclosure: I am managing director of TeamAsia.) and developed by Cloud Sherpas, is one piece of a larger campaign to acquaint graduates and professionals considering a career shift with the IT-BPO industry. Many are unaware that IT-BPO spans more than 20 different functional and vertical segments according to BPAP senior executive director Gillian Virata.

“We have jobs for animators, game developers, IT professionals, software developers, financial analysts, accountants, doctors and nurses, and many other professionals,” she said at the same briefing.

“The problem is that they just don’t know where to find the kind of jobs that allow them to work in a global environment while living in the Philippines,” Mr. Hernandez explained. “The career portal is intended for students, fresh graduates, young professionals, and experienced workers who want to work for world-renowned companies that provide their workforces financially and professionally rewarding careers. They don’t have to go overseas for great jobs.”

Among BPAP’s principal target for the campaign are an estimated 517,000 college graduates this year who will look for jobs during the summer. Job postings on the portal provide something for everyone, including an expanding array of opportunities available outside Metro Manila. Ms. Virata—who also announced the launch of Next Wave CitiesTM, a BPAP publication that provides demographic and other information for regional cities—said emerging IT-BPO hubs all over the Philippines are experiencing significant demand for professionals.

“Fast-expanding IT-BPO centers in Davao, Laguna, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cavite, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Malolos, Baguio, and Dumaguete, are also in need of professionals to fill jobs in voice and non-voice BPO in these cities,” Ms. Virata said.

According to the NWC study, published by BPAP and the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office, the top ten cities in the Philippines will graduate 12,000 tertiary students this year, and have regional workforces with at least 30% composed of professionals. Mr. Hernandez believes the “Work Abroad. Live Here.” portal will facilitate their employment in the IT-BPO industry in many segments.

A significant challenge for the industry, however, is the still-growing number of students and professionals considering work overseas. “A lot of students continue to want to go abroad to look for better-paying jobs. What BPAP is doing is making these available jobs visible to students. They don’t have to go abroad to find jobs—they just don’t know how to find these great jobs,” said Penny Bongato, BPAP executive director for talent development.

To return to the healthcare example, nurses and other medical professionals can build rewarding careers in healthcare information management outsourcing by complementing their expertise with IT and related skills. “There are a lot of opportunities for nurses and doctors in the country as long as they infuse additional skills set,” said Myla Rose Mundo-Reyes, managing director of health care information service outsourcing firm TTSI. Ms. Mundo-Reyes is herself a registered nurse.

To generate visibility for the portal a Facebook fan page and Twitter account have been set up. With close to 30 million active Facebook accounts—making the Philippines the second-largest Facebook market in Southeast Asia and the eighth-largest globally, BPAP is optimistic that both employers and potential knowledge workers will quickly find and leverage the portal. It its first 10 days, the Facebook fan page attracted more than 1,000 likes and had over 500 people “talking about it.”

As I was writing this column, close to 100 companies had already posted hundreds of jobs on the portal. The jobs are available. So graduating students and parents of students, go check them out.

(Michael Alan Hamlin is the managing director of TeamAsia and a Manila-based author. His latest book is High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand. Write him at mahamlin@teamasia.com and follow him on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. Copyright © 2012 Michael Alan Hamlin. All Rights Reserved.)

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