The value of the business process outsourcing sector (BPO) sector has surpassed J$40 billion with future plans to jump to higher skilled services, latest Government of Jamaica data suggests.
The sector now earns about half the amount of the financial services sector at $81 billion, according to the Economic and Social Survey 2017.
“In an effort to diversify the local sector, Jamaica seeks to move up the value chain by delving deeper into new areas such as shared services, legal process outsourcing (LPO) and medical process outsourcing,” stated the Government which added that the country has actively engaged numerous international shared services operators and LPO operators in an effort to get them to expand to Jamaica. Additionally, JAMPRO, the Government agency with responsibility for the development of business opportunities has engaged with local and international private sector entities and universities to better know the opportunities in higher level customer service activities.
BPO is now rapidly set to hit the 30,000 employment mark with centres spread out across major towns and cities in the island. The sector gained prominence in Montego Bay but has seen considerable growth in Kingston followed by Manchester in recent years. Kingston’s advantage is that it houses the largest talent pool of university graduates in the island.
The sector comprises of roughly 60 companies engaged in an array of activities.
“There are approximately 27,000 people currently employed in the industry across the island. The estimated spend in the local economy is around J$40 billion (US$323 million), through wages, office space leasing, utilities and other categories,” said Government of Jamaica in its annual report to bond holders in June.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms located in Jamaica are executing a broad range of services, including customer care, technical support, back office (finance and accounting, administrative and human resource-related services), market research and analysis, claim processing, debt collection, graphic design, software development, telecommunications, banking, insurance, healthcare and retail.
BPO is presently making a noticeable contribution to employment generation and is augmenting economic growth in Jamaica.
Jamaica provides for a number of advantages conducive to the BPO sector. These, when compared with other competitive centres in the world, namely the Philippines and India, include the island’s ideal time-zone and proximity to the US; strong telecom infrastructure; English speaking workforce; and competitive wages.
The National Outsourcing Strategy was adopted in 2015, with the goal of nearly doubling the sector’s employee count by 2020. This requires action across multiple Jamaica ministries, department and agencies to strengthen the enabling environment in the following main strategic focus areas: policy and incentive framework; labor market enhancement; infrastructure development; and market penetration.
There are now programmess that have been developed by the Heart Trust to facilitate on-the-job management training, international accreditation of courses and apprenticeship programs.
The PetroCaribe Development Fund has lent a total of US$60.5 million to BPO ventures, which are engaged in developing a total of 1,047,170 square feet of operating space. These new developments are expected to provide approximately 22,000 seats.