Tens of thousands of Filipino “Near Hire” job seekers will now have the opportunity to work in the country’s booming IT-BPO (Information Technology – Business Process Outsourcing) industry as a result of a major expansion of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)‘s training program for the sector.
TESDA and the IT-BPO industry’s umbrella association, Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to kick off the P500 million expansion of the IT-BPO Industry-Based Training for Work Scholarship Program (I-TWSP), which has already proven to be successful in helping industry applicants to quickly learn the skills needed to qualify for a job in the industry, and is targeted to train 65,000 Near Hires. BPAP and its partner associations have committed an employment rate of at least 70 percent of the total graduates within six months after they finish the course.
The lead participants in the signing ceremony were TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva and BPAP Chairman Alfredo Ayala. The signing came after President Benigno S. Aquino III announced the approval of the additional P500 million training budget at the BPAP-sponsored International Outsourcing Summit last October 12 where he was the guest of honor and keynote speaker.
TESDA designated BPAP to help manage P400 million of the additional funds in collaboration with its partners: the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI), the Call Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), the Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP), the Healthcare Information Management Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP), the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) and the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA).
The project aims to quickly convert thousands of Near Hire IT-BPO job applicants and hopefuls to full-fledged qualified IT-BPO full-time workers, in as rapidly as 2-3 months. “Near Hire” applicants are those who have applied for an IT-BPO job but still require additional training to raise their skill levels to meet the full requirements of an IT-BPO job. Only trainees who have been certified as qualified Near Hires by members of BPAP and its partner associations are eligible to avail of the scholarships.
BPAP Chairman Alfredo Ayala said, “The Filipino Knowledge Worker is already internationally recognized as World Class, and we are now universally recognized as #1 in the world in Voice or call centers.” He added, “Our big opportunity is to leverage this success and become the #1 destination for IT-BPO in general. TESDA’s innovative program helps us to achieve this goal by directly addressing our biggest constraint, namely the supply of talent.”
Ayala also emphasized, “Our industry is proving to be a powerful antidote to one of the biggest challenges our society faces, namely, emigration and the hollowing out of millions of Filipino families. By providing competitive jobs locally, our industry is helping to keep the Filipino family intact. The IT-BPO industry is also very inclusive, as the employees we hire range from high school to nursing to IT graduates, from Laoag to Davao, from Class B to D, and include returning OFWs.”
The training program includes not only voice or call center training but also covers important segments of Non-Voice BPO such as legal, health care information management, publishing, animation, game development, and software development. In addition, it will be implemented nationwide.
“Our training will give the scholars the crucial skill sets they need, and help improve the odds for them to be hired,” Director General Villanueva said. “By expanding the pool of qualified, globally competitive, and job-ready workforce needed by IT-BPO companies, we are also able to address the talent supply gaps that the burgeoning industry is experiencing today,” he added.
“For the employment and the revenue potential of the industry, we view this as a reasonable investment by the government,” said Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management. He added, “This is the kind of partnership and support that the government is pursuing now in 2011, and for the remaining years of the Aquino administration. The same government-industry partnership is going to be entered into with the five primary industries identified by the Aquino administration as drivers of employment and growth, which are agriculture and fisheries, tourism, general infrastructure, semiconductor and electronics, and BPO.”
According to Ayala, “We view this as a major first step in a much more powerful partnership with government which we call an “IPPP” or an Industry Public Private Partnership, which is different from infrastructure projects and instead focuses on maximizing the potential of an entire industry.” He added. “For this program, the industry is very grateful to the President and his administration, particularly TESDA and the Department of Budget Management, for realizing the big potential of IT-BPO to provide jobs for our citizens. What we are seeing now is a united industry working very closely with a well coordinated executive branch, and other key players like Congress and the academe, to develop detailed action programs like the I-TWSP.”
In order to augment TESDA’s funding, BPAP and its partners committed to establish and maintain a training development fund, which will be used for additional training of “Near Hires” within the industry. They will set aside at least 20% of the total training cost for each graduate hired in the case of call center training, and 10% of the total training cost for each graduate hired in medical transcription, software, animation and game development.
The P500-million funding for the I-TWSP is a key initial component of the government and the IT-BPO industry’s Roadmap 2016 to increase total industry generated jobs from 1.8 million in 2010 (500,000 direct and 1.3 million indirect) to 4.5 million in 2016 (1.3 million direct and 3.2 million indirect), and exports from $9 billion in 2010 to $25 billion in 2016.
BPAP has produced a weekly industry television show for recruitment, as a precursor to a massive career information campaign that the industry is planning to run in the next few months, with the goal of explaining to talented Filipinos that a career in the IT-BPO industry is one of the most attractive in the country, with the potential for employees to learn world class skills and advance rapidly in terms of both responsibility and compensation.