Provinces now account for 30% of BPO jobs  

More business process outsourcing (BPO) companies are locating to the provinces, which now account for 29 percent of total 1.44 million industry workforce as companies leverage on cost, digitalization, and talent, the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) reported.

IBPAP President and CEO Jack Madrid said that as of end 2021, close to 420,000 or 29 percent of total industry workforce are located in the countryside. Back in 2016, IT-business process management (ITBPM) employment outside the National Capital Region was just around 270,000 or 24 percent of total.

“Our sector’s employees, who are in the countryside, have shown a regular uptick over the years and are now at 29 percent of the total industry workforce,” he pointed out.

In-demand provincial locations are Bacolod, Cebu, Clark, Davao, and Iloilo, according to IBPAP data.

But Madrid also noted that ITBPM locations are not just in mature provinces but also in emerging cities and provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao that have been considered digital cities. Madrid noted that digitalization is a major growth driver for ITBMPs to locate in the regions.

He also cited the partnership of the industry and the local government units through the local ICT councils, which are “getting geared up for this wave of investors” and are transforming the countryside.

“Certainly this has begun to create hubs across our provinces and leveraging the immense potential of our countryside locations as well as talent,” he added.

The IBPAP together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) launched the Digital Cities Program in 2020. The program initially started with 25 areas chosen based on their potential and for being able to meet specific criteria as part of the overall IT BPM ecosystem.

Some of the parameters that highlight the priorities of investors as well as locators include cost, the quality of business environment, and the availability of valid digital infrastructure.

Of the 25 digital cities, Madrid said 14 have already launched their individual roadmaps and recently participated in an intensive marketing session. These cities were also given guidance on how they can move forward with their strategic initiatives.

There are also business matching events to help LGUSs build partnerships with select ITBPM investors and players.

Madrdid said that building better business and supply chain resilience from a talent standpoint will continue to be extremely critical amid the intensifying global war for talent. This has been exacerbated by higher attrition rates that the industry experienced during the pandemic and as well as the growing requirements for even more advanced digital skills for data analytics engineering, machine learning cybersecurity, as well as niche skills such as software development, and 3d animation.

As a response, Madrid said, more and more companies are refocusing on upskilling and rescaling their employees through specialized programs, coaching and on the job training.

For this year, IBPAP targets to exceed the 2021 performance. In 2021, the industry’s headcount increased by 9.1 percent or 120,000 jobs added to 1.44 million total Filipinos employed in the industry. In terms of revenue, the industry also grew by 11 percent to $30 billion, contributing 7.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).