US ElectionsLately, the election fever in the United States of America reached one of its high points – where fellow Democrats are calling Sen. Hillary Clinton to drop out from the race against Barack Obama as she has no chance of winning the Democrat Party nomination.

But what was more significant is the issue on Jobs. Oppps, not good ‘ol Steve Jobs but ‘work’ in particular. Both Presidential wannabes from the Democrats faced a common question among the people in several States they were campaigning – its all jobs, jobs and jobs.

Many Americans are complaining that they are losing jobs due to Free Trade policies adopted by the US Government. More jobs are shipped to other countries where cheap labor means lower operating costs and the beneficiaries include India, and the Philippines.

Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines

Outsourcing industries now have become a key industry in the Philippines which employs thousands of Filipinos, most especially new graduates who only have limited choices of  more related jobs. There are more than college graduates each year as against available jobs matched with their chosen fields. This is the reason why more Filipinos are either seeking jobs overseas, or chose to stay and work in business outsourcing companies who provide a slightly better starting compensation package than most traditional companies.

Cheap Labor

More people are now working in call centers, transcription business and offshore shared services. The first two employ the bulk of Filipinos working in business process outsourcing services. With initial salaries at an average of Php 16,000 to Php 20,000 per month (about USD400.00 – USD500.00), this is cheap labor compared with American counterpart. At an average charge rate of USD15.00 – USD25.00 per Seat per Hour, Call

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Center and Transcription business Operators only need 2 to 3 days to pay out an Agent’s salary for the month. Of course there are other expenses such as Night Differential, transportation allowances, medical benefits, infrastructure and other overheads, but operating a call center or medical transcription in the Philippines is a lucrative business.

Shared Services BPO

An exception to this are the people employed in the Shared Services business process outsourcing industry. These are the people who enjoy bigger salaries and better benefits as compared with their Call Center or Transcription counterparts. Although not comparable with Americans, but these are the people that are receiving more than a thousand dollars on the average every month.

Shared Services BPO covers the areas of Marketing, Finance, Manufacturing, Quality Management, Payroll and Human Resource among other business functions. These are the people who process data, encode in the database, perform accounting entries, generate reports, analyze and prepare budgets, expenses reports and other core business activities of an offshore company, probably an American or European corporation. This is what hurts Americans the most.

Opportunities for Personal and Career Growth

There are long discussions and debates whether people in the Outsourcing Business have opportunities for Personal and career growth. Shared Services BPO offers a much better and clear path for both personal and professional growth. However, Call Center and Transcription industries are facing the challenge of employee retention and long-term career path.

Most Call Center and Transcription Agents do not feel that their companies could offer them long-term career development. After being an Agent, one can become a Team Leader, a QA Specialist, a Trainor, a Lead Trainor – but mostly career growth goes to a halt after that.

Adding to the complications are the birth of newer Call Center and Transcription businesses, that offers a few hundred pesos more wage. This business has become like a mushroom industry. The government has yet to make relevant regulations to protect this industry from fall-out. However, bigger, more stable Operators are still coping, and may probably stay longer than the new and smaller ones. Reputable companies include People Support, Convergys, Teleperformance, Sykes and many more.

The future of Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines

Some doubts have been casted whether Call Center operations and Transcription business would stay long. Some are saying it is now going into saturation, as more countries in the

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Thirld World are catching up with the skills required, most notably the use of English language. Another reason is the global recession that may force governments to regulate jobs outsourcing and protect its citizens from high unemployment rate.

Another seemingly realistic projection is the improvement of technologies and systems that most companies are using, and the drive towards Consumer empowerment that would enable companies to handle Customer Service first hand. With the advent of online networking, affiliate marketing and consumer-company partnerships that allow Customers/consumers to earn residual income from the products they purchased, someday or sooner, the demand for outsourced Customer support which constitute the bulk of most Call Center operations may decline.

More about Business Process Outsourcing next time.

By the way, enjoy a video of Democrats candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton.

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