Vaz: BPO a key pillar of growth agenda
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, said outsourcing services remain a key pillar of the country's economic growth and job creation strategy, and the Government has been proactive in promoting, engaging and securing investments in the sector.
The minister noted that business processing outsourcing (BPO) has contributed to the reduction in unemployment to 10.4 per cent as at October 2017, which is the lowest since October 2008.
"The unemployment rate was 2.4 percentage points lower than in October 2016, and a 0.9 percentage point lower than in July 2017," he noted.
He said that a strategy has been adopted with the goal of nearly doubling the employee count within the BPO sector by 2020.
"But, we have gone even further by forming the BPO task force, which oversees the implementation and update of the development work plan for the industry," he noted.
"In addition, we have secured a National Coordinator for Outsourcing (NCO) to ensure that all elements of the ecosystem are in place, to ensure the success of the industry," he pointed out.
HIGH EMPLOYMENT GROWTH
The focus is on strengthening the enabling environment, particularly the policy and incentive framework; labour market enhancement; infrastructure development and market penetration.
Vaz said that these initiatives have paid off, "as the sector continues to enjoy a high employment growth rate surpassing many of our other sectors".
He informed that there are approximately 60 BPO companies in Jamaica offering a wide range of services, including customer care, technical support, among others, and accounting for over 26,000 jobs.
"I am happy with the performance of the sector, but we want to ensure that even more Jamaicans are empowered through jobs. To this end, we have mandated the relevant government agencies to create the environment for the expansion of the industry," he pointed out.
He indicated that the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has committed US$73 million to finance 15 BPO projects islandwide. Last year, work commenced on development of new spaces in Montego Bay and Portmore to create over 6,000 new job opportunities.
In addition, the Factories Corporation of Jamaica has undertaken to design and construct BPO space on 34 acres, with a target of approximately 20,000 jobs.
"The job creation potential of the BPO sector is encouraging, to say the least, and augurs well for our (economic) agenda," Vaz said, assuring that challenges, including the length of time for approvals, are being addressed.