'Covid-19 will boost Philippines BPO sector'

17 June 2020

The Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry will see a post-Covid resurgence in the coming months with major suppliers already looking to source manpower to fulfil contracts, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labour secretary Silvestre Bello said the pandemic and the subsequent global recession would force the West to offshore more business process and it was likely that many would go to the Philippines, particularly Clark, Cebu and Manila.

Bello said he was optimistic after a meeting with IT-BPO industry leaders where officials said the industry could continue to provide employment opportunities amid the pandemic. 

“We received information that some big companies have already given notice for their requirements, one of which needing at least 4,000 seats to be filled up before September,” Bello said.

Rey Untal, president and chief executive officer of the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said companies were continuing to hire to meet the demand for BPO.

However, the meeting came about after a recent online survey of a BPO employees’ group reported that four out of 10 BPO workers were either in floating or “no-work-no-pay” status during the lockdown.

Untal said IBPAP was planning to discuss the issues raised by the workers with the heads of BPO companies.

DOLE has issued guidelines for employers to try to protect jobs and prevent layoffs and retrenchments.

The BPO industry in the Philippines employs over 1.3 million people and companies were allowed to operate under the country’s lockdown.

This was provided they made available temporary accommodation and shuttle services for on-site workers or alternative working arrangements such as working from home.

However manufacturing production fell in April by the most since 2001 following the first full month of lockdown.

The sector’s value of production index was down by 61.4% year-on-year and the index measuring the volume of output fell 59.8%, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Steepest manufacturing output declines were seen in leather products, footwear and apparel, furniture, fabricated metals, rubber and plastic goods and tobacco products, the agency said.

The country’s unemployment rate also grew by a record 17.7% in April, leaving 7.3m unemployed.

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