Manpower lack hobbles growth of BPO in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 5 October)– The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region has called for an interagency study to address the mismatch between the available manpower and the requirements of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in the region.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC 12 chairperson, said a number of BPO players have moved and expanded their operations in the region in the last several years but the industry’s growth was hampered by the lack of available skilled manpower.
“While there is a significant number of tertiary education graduates in the region annually, the available manpower supply could not satisfy the requirements or qualification standards set by the BPO firms,” she said.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The RDC-12 had adopted information and communication technology (ICT)-BPO as one of the region’s priority industry clusters that would be promoted to enhance the generation of investments and employment opportunities for the area.
As cited in the regional development plan for 2011-2016, such move involves the development of ICT-BPO micro, small and medium enterprises.
Citing an initial study made by the RDC-12’s economic development committee (EDC), Custodio said the mismatch was mainly due to the lack of institutionalized courses or training programs in the region that complements with the needs of the BPO industry.
She specifically noted the manpower requirements of call centers and transcription companies that are currently based in the city.

To address the problem, Custodio said the EDC recommended the conduct of a comprehensive interagency study that will involve the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Education, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Trade and Industry.
“The committee recommended that the curricula of higher education institutions and the course offerings of TESDA-accredited schools in the region should be aligned with or be made relevant to the needs of the industry,” she said.
Ibrahim Guiamadel, DTI Region 12 director, said the region presently hosts eight software development companies, seven medical transcription centers, three call centers, two BPO accounting companies and an animation venture.

So far, he said 10 of the 71 higher educational institutions in the region offer integrated contact or call center certification programs while 11 technical institutions offer medical transcription training courses.
Two technical schools in the area currently offer software development training courses, he said.
The local BPO industry generated around P35 million last year in fresh investments with the upgrading of 10 ICT firms in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, a DTI report said.
In August last year, the city unveiled its first Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA)-registered Information Technology or IT Park, which is now being developed as the region’s BPO hub and “landmark for IT and IT-enabled business and services.”
The 2.8-hectare Mabuhay IT Park, which was developed and operated by local firm MabuhayOne Corporation, was envisioned as “a one-stop facility capable of carrying voice, video and data services that will deliver a superior, reliable and secured network communications and back-up power supply to assure of clean and uninterruptible power.”
It presently hosts a call center facility of top BPO player Sutherland Global Services and several other IT companies. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)