Tue | Sep 29, 2020

BPO rebuke over 'low-paying' jobs - Major player rubbishes Byles' claims

Published:Tuesday | August 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMMark Titus/Gleaner Writer

Stakeholders in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector are in agreement with businessman Richard Byles that more should be done to achieve greater economic growth, but has rubbished the notion that outsourcing only offers low paying jobs to Jamaicans.

Byles, chairman of the Sagicor Group, in addressing the St Ann Homecoming and Heritage Foundation's 13th Annual Awards Banquet at Jewel Dunn's River in St Ann recently, called for more to be done through tourism, mining and the outsourcing sector to set the country on firm economic footing.

Byles further questioned the wisdom of expanding the local outsourcing offering for Jamaicans to just answer the telephone.

"I make these points to say, part of the problem we face with economic development in this country is that the value added of the Jamaicans who work in Jamaica is too low," Byles said. "We need to have jobs that have greater value added and what that does is create a greater gross domestic product, it makes the individuals wealthy, it makes the domestic market bigger."

However, local BPO operator Yoni Epstein, said wages in the BPO industry for frontline employees are among some of the higher wages across all industries in Jamaica.

"The BPO industry is not a lowing paying job as people may think," he charged.

"Many individuals in the private and public sector use that as a sensational topic to say that our BPO jobs are low paying and is the bottom of the totem pole in the BPO sphere."

"Yes, a lot of our work is answering the telephone, but we are representing some of the biggest brands in the world, that is transacting billions of US dollars and are supporting jobs which essentially support the growth of the economy," added Epstein, founder and chief executive officer of top outsourcing outfit Itelbpo Solutions.




Gloria Henry, president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), said the BPO sector has not only created job opportunities, but it has been transforming the lives of many, while generating numerous high net worth contracts for entrepreneurs and existing companies in Jamaica.

"Jamaica is already performing high level outsourced services and is definitely providing much more than voice-based customer contact services in BPO," Henry said.

"Over the last two decades we have had an evolution of services provided in Jamaica, moving from telemarketing and data entry to customer contact services to shared services work in finance and accounting, medical transcription, software development, data analytics to name a few."

She continued, "We have companies engaged in technical support that provide services from the simplest to the most complex technical issues for large North American technology and transportation companies.

"Very importantly, we have a company in Jamaica assembling circuit boards, cable harness and printers that are sold in 187 countries across the world and also providing technical support for Primera Technology Inc. in the United States."

According to Henry, the BPIAJ, which represents all the players and their linkages, have engaged the ministry of education and HEART Trust to ensure that training and development are designed to meet not just the changing job requirements that are driven by technology, but also the acceleration up the value chain.