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BPO poser: Career or transit job?

This is the riddle that academe, students and parents have yet to figure out, and is considered as one major factor behind the inability of universities to produce enough qualified graduates to support the growth of the industry.

Dr. Vicente Fabella, president of Jose Rizal University, said experts in academe are still debating if it is already appropriate to create a degree in the field of BPO, with some camps contending that a job in this industry is still not considered a career.

This debate, he said, is critical since students and their parents equate degrees with careers, so the number of students who will take the BPO path will be naturally determined by a clear labeling of the industry.

This is also one reason that only the Bulacan State University has so far decided to set up a degree on BPO, Fabella said.

“We have a free-market educational setup so you can’t force them to offer the degree. What universities are doing is to have internal promotion of BPOs and put up enhancement programs related to skills that the BPOs need, and currently those skills have focus on English proficiency,” Fabella said at the Call Center & BPO Training Convention 2010 on Thursday at the Makati Shangri-La.

Jon Kaplan, president of TeleDevelopment Services Inc., said that with only about 10 percent of the 450,000 annual graduates in the country taking BPO jobs, there will not be enough talent available to fill the growth requirements of the industry.

“Even if we spice that number with the career shifters and double-degree holders, we still do not have enough people. So how do we make the industry more appealing?” Kaplan said.

The BPO industry currently has an agent base of 450,000. Last year, the industry grew by 19 percent and is expected to grow faster this year at 26 percent.

Jamea Garcia, talent development director of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines, recognized that the industry needed to do a lot of things in terms of building up the awareness of the people that BPO is a career.

She said first-tier colleges indeed would prefer not to see their students go into call center or other outsourcing jobs.

However, Garcia said a lot of students from these top universities are actually working in BPO firms already.

Also, the industry needs to show to the public that those who stayed with their companies for at least four years now have actually moved to higher positions, such as training heads and operations managers, thus indicating that there is a career in BPO.

Oscar Contreras Jr., past president of the People Management Association of the Philippines, said what needs to be defined with strategic clarity is whether a BPO or a call-center job is a transition job, “because when you call it a career, it should be for long term, and you should grow within the career ladder.”

Source: BusinessMirror

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