BPO workers 'upskill' to beat looming robot threat

Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2017 11:00 AM | Updated as of Apr 29 2017 12:00 PM

BPO workers 'upskill' to beat looming robot threat 1

MANILA - Filipino business process outsourcing workers are upgrading their skills to prepare for the growing use of artificial intelligence, an industry group said.

Call center agents are being trained for higher-paying jobs that require critical thinking, and complex decision-making, Jay Santisteban, operations director of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), told ABS-CBN News.

Filipinos are also in a “very good spot” with BPO clients because of their capability to learn and adapt quickly to new situations, Santisteban said.

“Mayroong mga trabaho na repetitive in nature, kayang gawin ng artificial intelligence, kayang gawin ng automation. But what we’re doing is we’re trying to upskill,” Santisteban said.

(There are jobs that are repetitive in nature, which can be done by artificial intelligence and automation.)

“Iyon ang ginagawa naming bagay ngayon, para mas umangat ang kakayahan [ng mga empleyado]. In a few years baka maiwanan ang trabaho na repetitive,” he said.

(This is what we are doing now, to improve the capabilities of employees. In a few years, maybe we can leave repetitive jobs behind.)

Tasks handled by humans, which can be automated, are expected to be reduced by 28 percent in the next six years, the CCAP said last year.

Middle- and high-skill tasks that require experience, meanwhile, are seen to grow by 7 percent and 48 percent, respectively, during the same period, it said.

The automation of tasks, or use of artificial intelligence is growing, with services being made available even on social media platforms in the form of messenger bots, and on smartphones as virtual assistants.