Philippines has taken the crown away from India as the number one in providing voice services for the global market.
But, it still remains second in line in non-voice processes, with India leading the competition.
The voice processes services industry is vast, but the non-voice processes industry is larger. Any country who wishes to make the non-voice service industry as its bread and butter must first be competent enough or master skills required to develop a good foundation on the industry.
Recently, the BPO services Philippines has to offer are wanting in the area of high-value operations such as financial analysis, health care management, engineering, animation, and software development. The Philippine BPO industry only has a few professionals with proficiency in the mentioned operational functions.
"To ensure the continued success of the industry, we need to equip more of our people with skills in high-value operations," said Philippine senator Edgardo Angara. He is also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology of the country.
Angara urges the stakeholders in the IT-BPO (Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing) industry to take more initiative in improving human resource development and training so that the industry can proceed sooner in its shift toward excelling in non-voice, high-value services.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) partners with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) in providing a training program that's worth P500 million; this is to support around 65,000 near-hires in developing their skills for non-voice processes.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has also announced that its Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) will be offering free training modules to assess and improve the skills of would-be BPO professionals.
“It is good that these efforts are in place to fill in the talent supply gaps currently faced by the IT-BPO industry. But these solutions are only for the short term,” said Angara, who also chairs the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).
The voice processing sector of the industry may be the one dominating for now, but soon, the non-voice processes will be the future driver of the BPO industry growth. The sector is fast growing in back-office, IT, engineering, and health care services, among others. BPAP anticipates a 20 to 25 percent growth in the sub-sector within the next five years.
TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva is also calling on schools, including universities and technical vocational institutions to offer more BPO courses, specifically for non-voice skills.
“We are enhancing the regulations in training potential call center and other BPO workers and those engaged in non-voice BPO to make them more competitive and attractive to the industry,” Villanueva said.
Research firm Everest Group has forecast the global BPO industry could be worth $220 to $280 billion this year, with 90 percent of that in non-voice work. These non-voice processes demand more complex skills and services in research and analytics for lawyers, doctors, and bankers, for example.
Last 2011, for BPO services Philippines accounted non-voice functions to be over a fifth of the total BPO revenues (which is $10.9 billion) and employed a third of the BPO workforce (which is around 220,000 people).