BPO sector reports $26.3-B revenues, 71,000 new workers in 2019

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The local BPO sector recorded revenues of $26.3 billion in 2019 or a 7.1% jump from the previous year, according to the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

IBPAP president and CEO Rey Untal (Photo credit: TESDA)

The sector also increased the number of its full-time employees (FTEs) in the country by 71,000 in 2019, bringing the total industry headcount to 1.3 million and registering a growth of 5.8% compared to 2018.

“These numbers show that industry growth is closer to the high range of the recalibrated figures of Roadmap 2022,” said IBPAP president and CEO Rey Untal. “It’s also a testament to the IT-BPM sector’s resilience and tenacity — that despite global and domestic headwinds, the Philippines remains competitive, relevant, and thriving.”

IBPAP noted that growth in 2019 was driven by large incumbents that continued to expand not only in Metro Manila but also in strategic delivery locations in the countryside like Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Laguna, and Pampanga. These companies accounted for 51,000 of the additional FTEs tallied last year.

There were also a considerable number of new investors and locators that set up their operations in the country. Half of the entrants were global in-house centers (GICs) providing services in healthcare, finance and accounting, human resources, information technology (IT) and software, and content moderation.

A strong pivot to mid and high-value skills also contributed, with 65% of the workforce able to render more complex and varied services for international and local clients.

According to Untal, the Philippines has long-proven its value proposition as a premier investment destination for IT-BPM services around the world and that the industry’s sustained 2019 growth in the country further reinforces this reality.

Currently, the sector is dealing with the global economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Domestically speaking, this will have an impact on 2020 headcount and revenue projections and will also modify prevailing work and service models within the industry.

As a provider of essential services, the sector was able to continue operations and increase capacity throughout the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Using remote technology, the industry has been able to improve its productivity rate, with 58% of employees working from home and another 15% delivering work as part of the skeleton staff housed on-site or in nearby hotels. A couple of weeks ago, these figures were only at 40% and 10% respectively.

Recent findings also show that while travel and tourism continued to face challenges, sectors like healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, and e-commerce saw an uptick in demand.

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