Education crisis a hurdle for BPO expansion, says Accenture

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 26 2022 09:57 PM

A senior BPO worker in the Philippines. Photo: IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines/Handout
A senior BPO worker in the Philippines. Photo: IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines/Handout

MANILA — The Philippines is at risk of falling behind in the highly competitive global industry of IT-BPO due to an education crisis, a firm said on Friday. 

"We do have an education crisis. We are lagging behind many of our counterparts, the other countries for example," said Manolito Tayag, Managing Director of Accenture Philippines.
 
"We need to bridge that gap between the requirements of industry and what is being learned by the students. I think that is a huge challenge, he added. 

Tayag noted the difficulty in adding new hires to the labor pool. 

"Right now, not all of the people who graduate from our universities or even the tech bloc will pass the requirements of our industry," he said. "So bridging that gap is what is just as important for us to address."

Accenture has some 72,000 people in the Philippines. In terms of investment in training across Accenture Philippines, over 3 million learning/training hours have been rendered in the fiscal year 2021. 

"There is still a significant amount of investment by companies like Accenture and the others, when they hire, you still do some form of training," Tayag said. 

"The ideal situation is that we hire from the education system and they hit the ground running. That will lessen our cost. That will increase our capabilities as well. “ 

BPO EXPANSION 

Tayag expects the availability of talent will be a key for the IT-BPO to expand outward from business centers in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

"We are very much conscious of our impact in terms of helping countryside development, particularly those outside Metro Manila and Metro Cebu," he said.

“The key goes back to talent and infrastructure. Do we have the talent in those locations where we can expand, and do we have the right infrastructure, the right buildings, and connectivity that we have?" he continued.

"Different cities will have different value propositions. But the good thing about this is our industry is so diverse in terms of services, that some locations are probably better off than other ones."

WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Tayag said IT-BPOs continue to engage the government when it comes to the matter of maintaining work-from-home arrangements and fiscal incentives as locators in Special Philippine Economic Zones. 

"We are working this out, and we have constant conversations and discussions with PEZA, BOC, FIRB, BIR, and the other agencies of the government," he said.

The Fiscal Incentives Review Board has been pushing for IT-BPO locators inside PEZA zones to get back to on-site work, stressing that by definition, they can only enjoy the tax breaks of PEZA locators if they actually do the work within the zones. 

The IT-BPO industry, however, has been operating with a mix of onsite and offsite workers, having proven that work-from-home arrangements can be just as productive as onsite work during the pandemic.

Tayag said that the future of work would not be 100 percent onsite or 100 percent offsite, but somewhere in between, depending on the nature of the business and the needs of workers and clients.

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