Contact-center industry seeks ways to improve graduates’ employability

Despite its continued growth, the country’s contact-center industry remains saddled with a talent pool that is only 10-percent readily employable up to now.

With this, the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) is seeking more interventions in the areas of skills training and education to raise the employability rate of Filipino graduates to 15 percent.

The CCAP and Aspiring Minds of India presented on Thursday the results of the National Employability Report, which showed that two-thirds of the 60,000 college graduates surveyed do not have the proper skills to qualify for the job of their choice across industries, including business-process outsourcing (BPO).

While not disclosing the actual employability measure specifically for the BPO sector, the CCAP said Filipino graduates rank low on specific functions within the sector, such as in inbound customer service jobs, outbound sales and information-technology help desk.

“The employability of all these roles is below 25 percent,” according to a statement on Aspiring Minds’s study.

CCAP President Benedict Hernandez said a proof of this is the very slow improvement in the industry’s hiring rate.

“Five years ago, based on our members’ survey, the hiring rate was about 6 percent to 8 percent.  Two to three years ago, this has risen to 8 percent to 10 percent. Our goal is to keep improving that because 10 percent is still not the efficient, optimal number in our view,” Hernandez said, adding that the ultimate goal is to bring this up to 15 percent.

The CCAP head said interventions in skills training with educational institutions will go a long way in improving the employability of Filipino graduates.

For example, CCAP members conduct a Near-Hire  Training Program, where applicants who have failed to secure a post in their company may undergo training for two to three weeks, then they are asked to reapply. “What we’ve seen is that 70 percent to 77 percent [of those] who go through the added training get qualified,” Hernandez said.

Tesda has given funding support for the Near-Hire program and has given scholarship grants in support of graduates wishing to enter the BPO industry.

The Commission on Higher Education, on the other hand, worked with the CCAP in creating the service-management program. In this program, CCAP member-companies tap universities who offer the BPO-tailored curriculum of service management for their work force.  The employability of the graduates in the BPO sector from the universities with this program jumped to 30 percent to 40 percent.

“The significance of this study by Aspiring Minds is we can have actual data, and our interventions can become more targeted and precise,” Hernandez added.

In 2016 the BPO sector employed 1.15 million people. Of this, the contact-center space contributed 751,000. The contact-center industry produces a net of 70,000 jobs per year, Hernandez said.




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