Making Education Respond to BPO Industry Needs: The Second of a Series of Round Table Discussions on BPO

Mr-Benedict-HernandezThe Philippine economy continues to improve, with the International Monetary Fund upgrading its growth forecast from six to seven percent, in contrast to a sluggish outlook for Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. And one of the key factors behind this improvement is an expanding pool of young, educated workers conversant in English, particularly in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

These were some of the facts cited by Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas in “Making Education Respond to BPO Industry Needs: The Second of a Series of Round Table Discussions on BPO,” organized by the Center for Research and Communication on July 12, 2013, 1:30 to 4:30 P.M. in the Telengtan Hall of University of Asia and the Pacific. In his Welcome Remarks, Dr. Villegas emphasized how research can help educators increase the competitive advantage of Filipino BPO workers.

The speakers for the Round Table Discussion gave different perspectives on improving the competencies of BPO workers. Mr. Aldrin Dulig of Convergys Philippines discussed how call center work requires quick thinking and managing irate customers, while providing accelerated leadership development. Ms. Penny Bongato of the Information Technology & Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) presented a study on how fourth-year college students have to improve their English proficiency and computer literacy to meet BPO standards. Dr. Maria Teresita Semana of CHED cited a study by Dr. Fiscalina Amadora Nolasco with similar results, and gave updates on CHED initiatives to improve English and computer education. Director Patricia May Abejo of the DOST Information and Communications Technology Office outlined DOST programs for developing higher-value services, as well as a Lean Six Sigma program for BPO management trainees.

Dir. Patricia Abejo of DOST-ICTOThe RTD discussants also included representatives from Ace Group, Asia Pacific College, Austrade, Benguet Corporation, BPO Workers Association of the Philippines (BWAP), Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), DOLE-Bureau of Local Employment, DSM Manila LLC, Maersk Global Service Centre Philippines, Meta-Coach Foundation (MCF) Philippines, St. Paul University, TESDA, Tuklas Sining, and UA&P.

A couple of insights that emerged from the open forum were the need to review elementary and high school programs, since language learning begins much earlier than college, as well as the need to improve the teaching of critical thinking skills in the general education curriculum. One question asked was if there is values formation so that BPO employees would view their work as more than personal compensation. Dr. Semana of CHED replied that the “Service Culture” subject in CHED’s Service Management Program focuses specifically on values. Another was whether U.S. President Barack Obama would succeed in recalling offshored jobs. Dr. Villegas answered that, based on his meetings in BPO roadshows in the U.S., the chambers of commerce there would lobby against such a move since BPO keeps American firms cost competitive in the midst of the present U.S. economic downturn.#