Thu | Dec 8, 2016

BPO firms struggle to fill vacancies - study

Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Industry, Investment, and Commerce Anthony Hylton (centre) observes activities being carried out by business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, Elephant Group's sales agent, Jannel James (seated), during his tour of the company's newly expanded office space in the Montego Bay Free Zone in May. Also looking on are: director, Elephant Group, Yvan Garcia (left); chairman, Montego Bay Free Zone, and Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), Clive Fagan (second right); and state minister for industry, investment, and commerce and member of parliament for West Central St James, where the free zone is located, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.-Contributed
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites (centre) and HEART Trust/NTA CEO, Dr Wayne Wesley, view a science exhibit by Jamaica College students at a recent STEM symposium put on by the Trust.
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Based on the HEART Trust/NTA Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry Sector Study published earlier this year, 68 per cent of the BPO companies surveyed said they had vacancies, with 64 per cent reporting that they had difficulties filling them.

The research also posited that in the 2014-2015 school year, some 4,480 persons would have to be trained to take up jobs in the sector and another 4,879 will be required to undergo training to meet the demands of the industry.

Some of the challenges they outlined in finding the right persons for the industry included lack of advanced information technology skills, inability to communicate in more than one language, and inadequate leadership and interpersonal skills.

The study indicated that "the HEART Trust/NTA should focus on training offerings for employees in the three occupational areas, namely, agents, IT support and team leaders/supervisors in the BPO industry."

ICT enrolment down

Even with the projected growth stemming from industries such as business processing outsourcing, logistics and shipping, animation, and computer and software engineering, the ICT sector recorded the greatest decline in the number of students registered at HEART.

Over the last five years, the enrolment in ICT-related programmes declined by more than 10 per cent, making it the targeted area under Vision 2030 with the greatest level of decline in enrolment over the last five years.

Identified as another area of priority under Vision 2030 and which many experts say has the potential to grow exponentially, the creative industries had the lowest number of students registered. Only a measly 397 students were pursuing courses relating to the creative industries.

Tourism recorded the second highest number of students enrolled with 18,062, while ICT had 8,573.

Manufacturing and agriculture saw close to 3,000 students completing studies in these areas.

During its last financial year, the institution said that of the 76,064 students enrolled in the priority areas, the majority (23,858) were completing programmes linked to the service sector.

Based on the institute's annual training report, over the last five years, the number of students declined from some 56,771 who completed training programmes with the trust in 2009 to 33, 643 at the end of the 2013 school year.

priority sectors

There is also a drastic decline in the number of students registered in the areas identified as priority for Jamaica to experience growth over the next few years.

The nine priority sectors relating to Vision 2030 include agriculture, construction, creative industries, information and communications technology (ICT), manufacturing, services and tourism.

Based on the HEART Trust/NTA Business Process Outsourcing Industry Sector Study, employers identified the following areas with the most potential for growth within Jamaica's BPO sector:

virtual assistant ship/administrative assistant

legal process outsourcing

human resource outsourcing

wedding planners

animation

software development

workforce management

business analytics

knowledge process outsourcing