The IT business process management (IT-BPM) sector vowed to generate 160,000 new jobs over the next two years in addition to its existing 1.32 million direct workers but has strongly pushed for the extension of the work from home authority, which will expire in September this year.
Benedict Hernandez, chairman of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. (IBPAP), said at the “BPOs, Exporters and OFWs: How can they bring the dollar income back?” webinar organized by the Management Association of the Philippines that this should help alleviate the country’s high unemployment rate due to the closures in other sectors as a result of the pandemic.
“Our opportunity is to add back about 160,000 jobs in this year and next year,” said Hernandez noting that 2021 can be strong and 2022 stronger. With higher growth, Hernandez said they would need more support from the government to further raise the sector’s 3.3 million indirect employment. By 2021, the ITBPM sector also expects their export revenues to reach $29 billion from $26.7 billion in 2020.
Hernandez, who has been with the industry for more than 20 years, pointed out that they had been very resilient, growing even during crisis period.
To support growth, Hernandez said they are pushing for the extension of the WFH arrangement as their authority is set to expire on September 12 this year.
During pandemic, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) allowed its registered enterprises to operate WFH as high as 90 percent of capacity. With quarantine restrictions still in place, the sector would like the government to further extend the authority. Under PEZA rules, its registered firms are required to operate only within the approved economic zone.
While this short term solution was granted to them during the pandemic, Hernandez also cited the need for a long term hybrid work-office and WFH arrangement to ensure they remain competitive.
In saying this, Hernandez reported that after one year of the WFH arrangement a lot of their employees prefer to work form home or a hybrid arrangements.
“We feel there are many other benefits of having a hybrid model. We feel it’s going to help with even tapping employees that we can reach with our physical locations,” he said.
Hernandez further reported the productivity and quality of work were not affected even as they shifted as much as 90 percent of their work to home setting. He said that companies invested in infrastructure to ensure their employees can work at home by converting desktops to laptops and providing them with stable internet connectivity.
“We now have more than a year data that tell us that quality does not go down, productivity, does not go down when people are working at home. In fact, we’ve seen evidence that has gone up for us,” he said.
In addition, the third reason that clients and companies are tentative about work from home is security breaches. “None of those fears that we had, as an industry, we saw happen,” he stressed.
“Quality is up, productivity is up, as well as security breaches, nothing extraordinary has happened so we think that, therefore, this, this hybrid model, some people working in office, sometimes that is something that is truly the way forward, it is the sustainable model, we’ve had to live through it. And we’re more confident about it,” he added.
To boost confidence, industry players have also joined in the private sector vaccine procurement program with over 1 million doses ordered.