Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Youth find hope in BPO sector

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre), shares a photo opportunity with young people employed at Alorica, a United States-based business process outsourcing (BPO) company that operates out of the Portmore Informatics Park in St Catherine, during a tour of the facility last year.

Business process out-sourcing (BPO) once viewed as a stopgap job option, has become a career of choice for many bright, young Jamaicans. In fact, many of them are moving to Montego Bay, St James, which has become the centre of the country's BPO operations, to take up positions in the sector.

Among them is Junior Rogers, who said that "I came specifically from Ocho Rios to Montego Bay to be a part of this rapidly growing industry".

He said that within three years, he was able to rise to a supervisory role at the business in the Montego Bay Free Zone, where he is employed.

"The BPO sector is an important outlet for a lot of school leavers, who can chart a course for their future by becoming employed to one of these companies here in the Montego Bay Free Zone," he said.

Tamara Smith, an information technology manager, said that numerous opportunities abound at all levels in the sector and encouraged Jamaicans, especially young people, to seize the moment.

Smith, who has been working in the BPO sector for five years, said the experience is very rewarding and that every day, there is an opportunity to learn something new.

"I love the fact that it is a fast-paced environment. I love the fact that this is a sector with prospects for growth and which is filled with great, young minds and brilliant ideas," she said.

Young mother Simone Phillips credits the sector with providing her with a second chance after she had to leave school prematurely when she became pregnant.

"I was a single mother at home and very unsure about my future. I had a chance meeting with someone who is employed to a prominent company in the free zone and the link was made for me to do an interview," she said.

She explained that she was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity for growth and the fact that it is not just a call centre, as many persons are led to believe.

"I am not making millions, but my life has changed for the better," she added.

The Government is targeting BPO as a key part of its economic growth and job creation thrust.

A total of 26,000 persons are employed in the sector, and the administration is looking to increase the number to 50,000 soon.

The BPO sector has the highest employment growth rate of any over the last decade, with several new players and rapid expansion in operations. It has become the number one source of employment, next to tourism, in western Jamaica.

Revenues from the industry grew from approximately US$230 million in 2012 to US$400 million in 2015.