Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Jamaican BPO sector plays significant role in economy, says PM ... New company will help to grow knowledge process outsourcing

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right) chats with (from left) Joseph Arena, firm controller of KPMG LLP; Donald Barnett, partner, outsourcing of KPMG in Jamaica; and R. Tarun Handa, managing partner of KPMG in Jamaica. The occasion was the launch of KPMG’s new near-shore shared services facility, Jamaica Extended Support Services, in downtown Kingston yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is touting the importance of appreciating the value of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector to the Jamaican economy.

"We should not seek to in any way depreciate the value of the BPO sector. It is a very important sector for the Jamaican economy," cited Holness in his address at yesterday's launch of the Jamaica Extended Support Services (JESS) operations at KPMG's Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, offices.

The new state-of-the-art shared services facility will initially seat 175 employees, with plans to increase to approximately 250, to expand its delivery of market development, finance and accounting, and human resource services to KPMG LLP in the United States.

Strengthening his point, Holness said that his administration has been making significant investments in the growing presence of the BPO sector.

He said that more than 30,000 people are employed directly in the sector, but noted that there is potential to do much more.

However, despite the strong growth numbers for that industry, Holness said there is fear among some stakeholders that the sector could slow because of a lack of staffing.

"My view is that it (growth numbers) could be 10 times that. But the sector has reached almost a frontier now, and it is the Government of Jamaica which has to increase its investment in the training of more people," Holness said.

"Some stakeholders in the BPO sector say that is their main complaint and that they are seeing in the very near future that the limit on growth could be the availability of staffing of their operations. So we are not taking that for granted."

He said that the Government has started to put in place various programmes to ensure that the sector remains buoyant, while creating well-paid jobs.

"So we have started now with the HOPE Programme, which is the first level of government intervention to get our young people who have left school but are not in employment, the unattached, to get them into a stream of work, engagement of apprenticeship so that they can be ready to take up the jobs in the BPO sector," stated Holness.

R. Tarun Handa, managing partner of KPMG in Jamaica, said the company is excited about launching its Jamaica Extended Support Services (JESS) operations.

He said it aligns closely with the national vision for growth and development of export services, and ties well with the efforts of the Government to create high-quality, socially useful, productive jobs for young people.

"These are high-quality, well-paying jobs with world-class training facilities and work environment for our young people. The jobs range from market research, compliance audits, investigations, and learning management, which require significant judgement and analytical skills," he said at the launch held at KPMG's Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, offices yesterday.

Handa said that KPMG has ambitious plans for the continued growth of the operation. He noted that it is anticipated that together with the existing foundation-build facility at their Duke Street offices, staff count in downtown Kingston for Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), an extension of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services will grow to 250.

KPO is information-related business activities, which are competitively important and form an integral part of a company's value chain.

"This will take the aggregate KPMG footprint in Jamaica to over 675 by September 2019, offering audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing services to Jamaican, Caribbean and North American clients," said Handa.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com