Future of Work News

Automation Drives Philippines Call Centers to Train Up Lower Skilled Workers


While automation in the contact center is a well-debated topic of study here in the U.S., where contact center work employs an estimated 3.4 million workers, the topic is a hot-button issue in countries such as the Philippines, which has built large portions of its economy on call center jobs. Today, the country is home to more than a thousand call centers and has taken the top spot ranking in the world for a call center outsourcing destination, beating out India nearly a decade ago.

It’s understandable that some portions of the Philippines call center sector see automation as a threat. By some estimates, AI-driven automation technologies such as chatbots could put a lot of workers out of a job: particularly those workers handling lower-skilled jobs. In fact, research provided by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) found that half of the 1.3 million people working in the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are lower-skill workers. These are generally workers doing backend work for clients such as looking up information and answering internal client calls.

So is automation coming to take these jobs? Is this the future of work?

Maybe not, but it’s definitely going to change how business is done, according to a recent article by Elyssa Lopez writing for This Week in Asia. Some forward-thinking companies are beginning to “upskill,” or train up, lower-level BPO employees who once upon a time only really needed English language skills and little else. These companies are relying, in part, on e-learning platforms with gamification features.

“Global professional services firm Genpact, which has around 6,500 employees in the Philippines, started a workforce upskilling program through something familiar to them: mobile game apps,” wrote Lopez. “Employees can finish the courses at their own pace. However, those that show exemplary performance in the courses get a bigger credit in terms of promotion opportunities. The program has already allowed some employees to move up from low-level work like processing simple transactions to mid-level responsibilities such as market servicing.”

Ironically, automation may actually be helping these employees. During the times they’re scheduled to cross-train on e-learning platforms, spaces are made in their schedules by relegating lower-level customer calls to automated customer support platforms.

To learn more about automation in the call center, the Future of Work and how AI will drive the workplace forward into the twenty-first century, plan on attending the Future of Work Expo at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida from February 9 to 12, 2021. For more information and to register, visit www.futureofworkexpo.com.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Future of Work Contributor

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