Engineers, MBA grads next targets of outsourcing firms

by Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Oct 23 2009 11:27 AM | Updated as of Oct 23 2009 08:40 PM

But executives say RP seems to lack ample supply of such talents

MANILA - International leaders in the outsourcing industry have told their Philippine counterparts to ensure that they will be able to meet the demands of knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), which will be the next stage in the evolution of the outsourcing industry.

Compared to business process outsourcing (BPO) that focuses on back-office tasks such as customer service call centers, KPOs involve analytic-intensive activities such as planning and researching.

Larry Jones of StarTek Inc. said he believes in the potentials of the Philippines in becoming a “new hot spot for KPOs.” A key player in the global BPO industry, the country would be able to keep up with the fierce competition in the rising KPO industry, he said Wednesday during an international summit of BPO leaders held in Manila.

He predicted that KPOs could eventually give rise to “home agents,” as KPOs would enable employees to just work at home instead of in a call center. “KPOs will deploy technology to offset labor costs,” he said.

However, Jones said the “availability of required skills” may be a concern because the country “lacks ample engineering and MBA talents” to meet the analytic-intense demand of KPOs.

Education issues

There is a need to address education issues in the country, he said.

Also, there is a need to look into management leadership skills, as Jones perceives the “lack of assertiveness and accountability” in the local industry. For most Filipinos, according to him, these traits are “not a thing.”

Vikrant Khanna of Hewitt Associate also encouraged local BPO executives to focus on management development skills to fully “implement the desired changes in the corporate operations and strategy.”

In this time of “exponential growth” in the industry, according to Khanna, there is a need to “look at all levels,” not just the entry level.

Talent sourcing would not be a problem, according to Khanna, as the local workforce “will stay forever young.”

Based on the United Nations report on population in 2008, the population of the younger generation in the Philippines will continue to dominate even until 2050. This gives the Philippines an advantage in supplying enough people to meet the demands of the industry, according to Khanna.

But as the labor force continues to supply enough people resources, Khanna observes that “quality and capability are not going up.” Hence, there’s a challenge for “sourcing hubs [to] act fast” and come up with “specific initiatives to fuel capacity building.” (Newsbreak)