Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Members of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector have formed an umbrella group, the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) with the support of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), the national investment and export promotion agency.
The BPO/ICT sector which is currently valued at more than US$200 million ($18 billion), and employs more than 12,000 persons has brought together representatives from BPO/ICT companies based in Montego Bay, Kingston and St Catherine. According to Yoni Epstein, chairman of BPIAJ, one of their main aims is job creation and by extension ensuring the growth of the sector.
"Many of the players in our industry do not have a voice. The BPIAJ will act as a lobby for the right policies and tools to ensure the growth of the sector. We also want to help those small players in our sector grow their businesses as well," Epstein said.
There are 26 BPO/ICT companies in Jamaica and the areas of immediate focus by BPIAJ will also include access to ready-built space, cybercrime legislation, development of a training curriculum recognised by the global industry, the establishment of a business incubator for start-ups and staff transportation.
"BPIAJ will bring the requisite leadership and collaboration to ensure that we build an industry that we will be proud of and help to transform our economy through worthwhile ICT investments," Epstein said.
Worldwide BPO spending is expected to grow at an annual rate of nine per cent set to reach US$1 trillion by 2014, according to the International Data Corporation. Epstein added that he was looking forward to strengthening the existing working relationship with JAMPRO, which has provided invaluable support to the industry, as well as the relevant ministries and state agencies.
In 2010/2011, ICT/BPO investments facilitated by JAMPRO totalled J$3.2 billion, and created 2,583 jobs. For the 2011-2012 financial year, JAMPRO-facilitated investments created 4,729 jobs, with 51 per cent of this total being attributable to the ICT sector.
The executive of the BPIAJ comprises Yoni Epstein - chairman; Mark Kerr-Jarrett - treasurer; Karl Graham - secretary; Jacqueline Sutherland - director and John Spencer.