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Automation seen biggest risk for BPO workers

ILO study

Published

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

 

Majority or 89 percent of employees in the BPO/call center sector in the Philippines are at high risk from robotic process automation, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

JLL, the world’s leading property management and consultancy services firm, cited this ILO study as it introduced the “Future of Work” concept.

Data showed that in terms of vulnerability, retail trade employees faced second highest risk at 88 percent followed by hotels with 70 percent and banking at 68 percent. Other services stand at 42 percent. Notably, all these sectors are in the services industry.

In BPO, JLL said that robotic process automation could have a significant impact on jobs.

Susan Sutherland, head corporate research of JLL Asia Pacific, said that based on their research 54 percent of employees work more than 5 days a month out of their offices. This figure depends on the kind of industries and jobs. But ILO said the BPO industry is the most vulnerable industry.

The 1.3 million-strong BPO workforce in the Philippines now faces disruption because of several factors. Many of the tasks formerly handled by humans in BPO centers are now being automated, resulting in a reduction of employees required to execute these tasks.

The Philippines is now the world’s number one destination for voice services and second to India in overall ITBPM (IT Business Process Management) services. It generated $25 billion revenues in 2016 and 1.3 million jobs.

According to the 2022 Roadmap of the IT-Business Processing Association of the Philippines (iBPAP), the BPO sector is expected to generate $40 billion in revenues, 7.6 million direct and indirect jobs, 500,000 jobs outside of the National Capital Region, and cover 15 percent of the total global outsourcing market by the end of 2022.

JLL Country Head Christophe Vicic said that this new employment environment is driven by technology and innovation.

As the world’s leading property management experts, JLL expects a corresponding impact on how future real estate developments would like for employees, who may no longer be needing the traditional kind of work spaces.

The BPO industry here in the Philippines is a key contributor to the growing demand for office space, and is one of the industries that will benefit greatly from Future of Work. The future of the BPO sector is not immune to the changing times.

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