Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor
Manila, Philippines (4E) – The impacts of the rapid advancement in automation is clouding the prospects of growth in call centers in the Philippines.
“The biggest challenge is people,” Jojo Uligan, president of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) was quoted as saying.
“We lack people with enough technical expertise and experience to service emerging needs.”
The world’s top call center destination, which has generated more than a million jobs through the outsourcing business since the early 2000s, is now confronted with the challenge of retraining employees for higher-skilled tasks that touch on areas such as healthcare, banking, finance and insurance.
The CCAP forecasts revenue from the outsourcing business to climb by only 8 percent this year through 2022, lower than the more than 10 percent growth seen in the past.
The Southeast Asian country was easily a viable choice for foreign companies such as Accenture Plc and American Express Co. to establish stores and outsource customer support and sales tasks.
With centuries of Western domination embedded in its history – around 300 years and a hundred more under Spanish and under American colonial rule, respectively — the Philippines has come to mold its culture from its influences, as well as adopt the English language which is considered a second tongue for the wider population that makes up the 100 million Filipinos.
But the rapid development of technology, particularly the emergence of machines capable of performing easy tasks – at least, for now – that people can do which includes customer relations, is posing a threat not only in call centers in the Philippines but in various business sectors across the world.
A New York-based consultancy, Tholons Capital, had said that more than half of outsourced jobs could be lost in a few years unless companies allot a significant effort on retraining its employees.
CCAP’s Uligan said companies are on the lookout workers who are college educated, experienced, have technical expertise and can easily be retrained, he said
“There is a lot of complex work now,” Uligan said. “It’s no longer mere directory assistance or taking orders.”
“People don’t evolve as fast as technology,” he added.
Leaders of some of the biggest outsourcing companies in the world is set to meet in the Philippines this month to draw up a plan that will counter the impact of automation on employmentin call centers.
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