MANILA, Philippines ? The contact center industry is one of the biggest industries that hire IT workers in the Philippines. An estimated 275,000 people are currently hired and growth rate is touted at 15 percent every year.
Hiring in the Philippines remains high especially since fresh graduates make up about 80 percent of new recruits, according to Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) president Benedict Hernandez.
?Among the strengths of Filipino call center agents are strong English skills, higher education, and better people interaction skills. We also have strong US cultural affinity,? Hernandez said during CCAP's recent industry conference.
However, call centers continue to experience recruitment problems.
Surprisingly, the industry?s hiring ratio is only about eight out of every 100 applicants, according to a CCAP. That equates to more than 324,000 being rejected every year.
CCAP has been working with the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) to increase the skills of potential employees.
The project, called Academe Partnerships for Language Training (AdEPT) aims to work with private schools in training students who want to have a career in the contact center industry.
The goal is to produce 13,500 graduates and increase hiring rate by as much as 20 percent.
Mentoring to reduce attrition
Aside from a low hiring ratio, the call center industry continues to suffer from a high attrition rate, estimated by CCAP at 57 percent.
But this is still lower than in India, considered the industry pioneer, where attrition rate is about 80 percent.
Donna Grande, Dell Philippines human resource director, said mentoring is one of the key factors in keeping people within the company.
Similar to an academic setting, mentoring in the contact center business means employees are provided with a coach to oversee professional development.
?By giving access to skills and tools, employees will be able to develop themselves professionally and actually become more productive,? Grande said.
A challenge for contact center companies is drawing crowds of applicants. With the industry?s hiring capacity rising at least 15 percent annually, the gap between demand for workers and supply becomes wider.
Penny Bongato, human resource director for outsourced back office provider Logica Philippines, said demand for people in the contact center industry is at 60,000 while only 12,000 are hired. Still, she said a bigger challenge is finding the right applicants for the right jobs.
Citing studies, Bongato said potential hires look for more than just hire pay but rather a better working environment where they can feel they are in a profession.
Bongato also said that companies must also know the skills they are looking for in a company such as service orientation, communication, problem solving, work ethics and values aligned with the company values.
?Make the most of talent. Set high expectations and train to meet those expectations. Our employees have the desire to learn and grow,? Bongato said.