Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is on the way to returning to its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) peak.
Speaking during his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 11, Mr. Shaw said there is indication that the sector will pick up on its previous trajectory of 16 to18 per cent growth per year and create numerous jobs for Jamaicans in the near future and beyond.
“Jamaica’s advantage as a prime BPO location is secure, and the performance of local talent continues to encourage business expansion from current players and attract new interest,” Mr. Shaw said.
He noted that there is the potential to add approximately 3,000 new BPO jobs in the near future.
Mr. Shaw noted that at the start of the pandemic, the BPO industry experienced lay-offs and loss of contracts, moving from an industry peak of 43,000 individuals employed in December 2019 to just over 35,000 in June 2020.
He said the greatest challenge faced was the sector’s need for flexibility in order to maintain jobs, particularly within the context of adhering to the Government’s curfew restrictions and COVID-19 workplace protocols.
“This was quickly facilitated by the Government approving the sector as an essential service and allowing temporary work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. This has proven to be a good policy in stabilising employment for the sector,” Mr. Shaw pointed out.
In addition, subsequent approvals under the Customs Act allowed for employees to continue to work from home.
“This significant change represents a major triumph for the industry, enabling the sector to rebound, resulting in rehires and expansion of existing clients and an increase in the progression towards higher value-added outsourcing services through the Global Service Sector Project, which is being steered by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO),” Mr. Shaw said.