Outsourcing industry eyes new overseas markets

The Philippines dropped one spot to sixth in the Tholons Global Innovation Index 2020 that measures the world’s most attractive outsourcing destinations. — BLOOMBERG

By Jenina P. Ibanez, Reporter

THE Philippine outsourcing industry is looking to tap new markets such as Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka for much-needed investments.

The sector has been touting the skills of the country’s workforce after the Philippines slipped in an index measuring the attractiveness of the country as an outsourcing destination.

In addition to the four Asian countries, the Philippines has also been reaching out to the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Australia through trade missions and investor meetings, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said.

“Plans to meet with more current and future investors and locators from other markets are also in the pipeline to sustain the positive conversations around the Philippines,” IBPAP Chief Executive Officer and President Rey E. Untal said in an e-mail last week.

The Philippines slid one spot to sixth in the Tholons Global Innovation Index 2020 that measures the world’s most attractive outsourcing destinations.

The Tholons report said the country’s economy was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, given that its value proposition was based on low-cost talent working out of offices offshore.

The lack of stable internet infrastructure for work-from-home schemes and absence of public transportation affected operations of many BPOs when the Philippine government began implementing a strict lockdown in mid-March. Lockdown measures have since been relaxed.

Only Manila and Cebu City landed in the Tholons index’s top 100 “super cities.” Manila slipped to fourth place from last year’s second, while Cebu City slid to 15th spot from 12th last year.

Mr. Untal said the IBPAP has been backing public policies that will sustain the industry’s growth.

IBPAP along with the government identified 25 cities that will be prioritized for a five-year internet connectivity and digital education program.

Mr. Untal said he hopes companies that have invested in Metro Manila can expand to other regions and new investors can set up shop in the country.

“Creating new investment hubs that support the IT-BPM ecosystem will spur the development of other sectors, generate more jobs, and de-risk Metro Manila concentration,” he said.

IBPAP is also rolling out its upskilling pilot program for workers, identifying Data Analytics, Medical Coding, Software Development, Six Sigma, Computer Graphics, and Digital Animation as priority skills that will be taught through online platforms.

The sector is scaling down its pilot program this year to 1,000 employees from the proposed 5,000 after it shifted to online training sessions due to the pandemic. IBPAP maintains that it hopes to train a million employees over five years once funding is available.

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