Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Growth & Jobs | Kingston rising: BPO investments flock to Jamaica’s capital

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica's Second City Montego Bay in St James has been known as the centre of the island's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry for the last 10 years.

Kingston, the country's capital, however, has seen a surge of recent outsourcing investments, which have led to the city's profile rising as a potential BPO destination in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kingston currently hosts the regional headquarters for Outsourcing giant Ibex Global, and is home to Sutherland Global, Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), Alorica, itelbpo Smart Solutions, Fusion BPO, Conduent and other notable outsourcing enterprises. The number of persons employed in the BPO sector in Kingston is close to 14,000, which is just under 50 per cent of the country's total number of employees in the sector, and that number is expected to rise significantly in the next five years.

"The performance of the BPO sector in Kingston is quite outstanding," said vice-president of Sales and Promotions at JAMPRO, Claude Duncan.

"We knew that Kingston had the potential for growth in this sector because of the connectivity available, and the access to great infrastructure and talent. Having recognised this potential, we were very strategic, deliberate and focused in our efforts to raise the profile for Kingston and attract the right providers who would give Kingston its own cache."

 

RECEIVING MAJOR RECOGNITION

 

The city's progress was recently recognised by international BPO experts, with Kingston receiving the award for "Nearshore City of the Year" at the Nexus Illuminate Awards hosted in San Francisco in June 2018.

Duncan said, "Jamaica is receiving major recognition from investors and analysts alike, and I believe that this is because of the consistent sectoral promotional efforts by the government and industry stakeholders like the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ). The strategy now is to keep this momentum going and to continue to develop and enhance the supporting ecosystem at a faster rate than the industry requires."

Duncan went on to explain that more will be done to develop Kingston, and other areas in Jamaica, to host BPO investments.

He said, "To remain competitive, we need to exceed global standards for BPO talent and space, as well as investment facilitation. More growth in the sector is coming, and Kingston will be a big beneficiary of this growth; we will be working to develop other areas which also have the requisite infrastructure."

... Recognising the opportunity

HGS supports the Kingston BPO vision

Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) has been one of Kingston's major BPO investors, and is taking its place in JAMPRO's vision for BPO in the city.

Anand Biradar, the Country Head for Jamaica and Vice-President for Business Development for Latin America and the Caribbean, noted that HGS entered the market in 2011, as the company was looking for an ideal nearshore location with English language support. He said the educated and talented labour pool, and the command of English made Jamaica the top potential investment location for HGS.

With the support of JAMPRO, HGS finalised their investment and has become a leading employer in Kingston's BPO space.

Biradar said, "About 2,000 people work in HGS Jamaica today, and we are very pleased with the availability of talent. Although the growth of the BPO industry has put pressure on talent availability and wage escalation, we envision a long sustainable business for us in Jamaica. In the advent of automation and AI, our focus has shifted from adding headcount to focusing on creating sustainable, high-value jobs."