WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 11 BPO JAMAICA: BPO JAMAICA a talent platform to support industry workers’ transitions and raise awareness among prospective and active employees about the sector and opportunities within it; capture skills of prospective and active employees and vacancies from employers, diagnosing skills gaps; and suggest training options for insertion and career advancement within the GSS. BPO Jamaica: Are our students showing interest in the BPO sector as a career choice? MS: Students are still yet to understand the career opportunities within the GSS. Many do not realise that they are actually, in some instances, working for Fortune 500 companies. The Talent Platform and Career Pathway Framework will help to bring clarity on where the opportunities lie within the industry. The National Awareness Campaign, which will be implemented by Jampro and BPIAJ, will also increase awareness on the industry. BPO Jamaica: Are our educators informed about the BPO sector as a career choice to guide our students? MS: Not sufficiently. Many of our educators still struggle with career options outside of the traditional ones that they know – lawyers, doctors, engineers, for example, and do not fully appreciate the strong potential in the GSS as some of the career options are not the typical nine-to- five jobs. BPO Jamaica: Are there plans to develop bilingual workers to respond to the demand of the GSS? MS: As a former language student and [coming to Jamaica] the realisation that Jamaica is in the backyard of many Spanish-speaking countries, it is a challenge that the country will eventually have to address. Jamaica is competitive in the BPO industry, and, in fact, Kingston was recently ranked as the top city for FDI attraction for BPO in the Latin America and Caribbean region and fourth globally (by the FDI Magazine ). This gives you a sense of how well-positioned we are in the BPO industry, and as we extend into the GSS, it will make sense for us to ensure that we maintain our competitive edge in whatever way we can. BPO Jamaica:What is your projection for the BPO sector in the next 10 years? MS: For the last five years, we have seen the outsourcing industry grow, in terms of employees, at a rate of approximately 18 per cent. The industry currently employs more than 36,000 persons, and we expect it to continue to grow over the next few years. Currently, the composition of outsourcing work being done in Jamaica is approximately 80 per cent customer service and 20 per cent higher-value-added services. In the next five years, we expect the composition to be 60 per cent customer service and 40 per cent higher-value-added services. This expected growth in higher-value-added services is based on Jampro’s strategy to bring more intricate work to Jamaica and attract more professionals into the industry as it evolves.As we do this, we intend to maintain Jamaica’s advantage as an ideal location for customer service, as customer service continues to be a key component in outsourcing. Some of the higher-value-added services that Jamaica is attracting and will continue to attract include software development, human resources management, finance, accounting, data analytics, and medical process outsourcing.With the advent of automation and artificial intelligence, we expect that in the next 10 years, the percentage of higher-value-added services will increase considerably, and we also anticipate that more persons will be working in the industry. The GSS programme will help to upskill Jamaica’s talent pool so that the country can respond to the evolution of the industry. PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH ‘I have always had a positive view of the BPO industry as it has always represented a high-growth industry for Jamaica. Now that the focus has expanded to the GSS, of which the BPO is a subset, my opinion is that the potential for the industry is even greater than before.’ Marjorie Straw, Programme Director, skills development for the Global Services Sector (GSS) project.