The Country’s Modern Wonder Crusader: Call Center AgentsFebruary 8, 2010
by Dyan Garcia, with Ven Dionisio
There’s much to be said about the call center industry after the outbreak of HIV scandals has been blamed on the lifestyle of its employees. Much has also been said about the ‘stagnancy’ of the industry in terms of human capital growth, mostly because it is believed that all you need to get a job in this industry is survival-level English proficiency and you’re pretty good to go.
But everything has a good side, and in the case of this industry, it can be found in its economic contributions and in the corresponding increase in the employment rate in the Philippines. Statistics has shown the rise of the call center industry has actually accounted for the more or less 12 percent growth of our GNP, and the industry itself constitutes for around 20 percent of the market share for call centers in the world. Moreover, the country has hit the big time by becoming one of the top ten business process outsourcing (BPO) countries in the world. The Philippines has proven itself to be a worthy contender in the industry as many global BPO companies have looked to us as a highly reliable backup to BPO big-timer India, thanks to our killer English-speaking skills and low-cost labor. There are now as much as 700 call centers around the country.
While it does not openly contribute much in the fight against poverty, this 900,000-high employment phenomenon shows much of its involvement in the rise of our government revenues. Rapid industry growth and elevated economic standing attached to call centers have spawned other revenue-generating activities as well, such as higher property investments and more white-collar income for the hardworking everyman. The future looks bright for the country in such terms as the global industry looks to expand its investments here by creating call centers in the upper Luzon area, specifically in the Benguet Province and in Baguio City. This will surely open opportunities for our countrymen up North and boost tourism there as well.
All these string of benefits would never have been possible without government intervention. Thanks to former President Estrada’s edict concerning the inclusion of the information technology industry among the country’s economic zones. Such inclusion occurs under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), an agency which works very closely with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and whose main task is to create viable incentives for service facilities and to decide on good investments for manufacturing businesses focused on export, all for the economy’s well being. This inclusion thus makes the call center industry a PEZA Special Economic Zone. The government has also provided incentives for BPOs to invest in our economy by offering tax exemptions.
The creation of the Cyber Corridor and the determination of the 4 other super regions – mostly created in order to allow for more focused development – have been made possible with the help of the private sector, the academe, and some local government units in close relation to the DTI. The 4 other super regions are the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, the Luzon Urban Beltway, the Central Philippines, and the Agribusiness Mindanao. The basis for the determination of the aforementioned areas for focused development was made on the grounds of high Information Technology (IT) graduates, accessible transportation, minimal labor and rent costs, and reliable infrastructure. The Cyber Corridor will basically become the e-service hotspots in different areas around the country, thus, attracting additional international investors due to its organization and industry-centered environment.
Despite everything that has been said and done, we are still a few of those who salute the industry for all that it has done for the economy. That’s another good call to add to the government’s list of achievements. Good job, government!