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BPO jobs grow beyond 60,000

The outsourcing sector grew seven per cent and added ten new customer contact centres in the past year, according to investment promotion agency Jampro.

Half of the 10 sites were set up by existing operators, and half by new market entrants during the period April 2022 and March 2023, Jampro said.

That growth helped to spawn over 5,000 additional jobs.

Outsourcing now employs 60,150 overall, Jampro said, but is on track to hit the 75,000 mark within five years.

Today, the market has 75 operators, including the five new entrants that Jampro did not name, and there are services emerging in the knowledge process outsourcing and information technology outsourcing segments.

However, Gloria Henry, a past president of the group that speaks for the outsourcing community, known as Global Services Sector Jamaica, says GSSJ has more than 90 members. Henry said the Jampro data on market players seemed to refer to only BPO operators, whereas GSSJ membership incorporated other outsourcing segments.

Globally, business process outsourcing was estimated at around US$240 billion to US$250 billion in 2021, and is forecast to climb above US$500 billion by 2030.

Jamaica’s share of the global market was said to be around US$900 million, at a time when the Inter-American Development Bank was touting the local sector’s untapped value.

“Companies are demanding more sophisticated knowledge process outsourcing services, paralegal, medical insurance claims processing, cybersecurity,” then IDB president Mauricio Claver-Carone, who was later voted out of office before his term ended, said in a briefing with journalists in March 2022.

“Eighty per cent of Jamaican BPO companies are focused on the traditional outsourcing services. Just 20 per cent of those are prepared to compete in that KPO sector. So huge opportunities are there,” he said.

Jampro hasn’t said what the current estimate is of Jamaica’s outsourcing market, which is dominated by foreign-owned companies, only that it “continues to be a leading destination for outsourcing in the Caribbean”.

Locally, one of the top Jamaican-owned outfits is Yoni Epstein’s Outsourcing Management Limited, which trades as itel. Some of the large global operators are Sutherland Global Services, Alorica, Teleperformance, Vistaprint, Conduent and Hinduja Global.

The Jamaican BPO sector has “enjoyed the highest employment growth rate of any sector in the last decade, and presently accounts for approximately 60,000 jobs across the island”, the agency said. That’s up from 55,000 at March 2022 and from 51,000 at March 2021.

The expectation is for outsourcing to continue adding about 3,000 to 4,000 new jobs on average, annually, going forward.

“As Jamaica pushes towards attracting and delivering higher-value services, the sector could register higher revenue growth in the next two to three years and approximately 75,000 jobs in four to five years,” Jampro said.

Inside Jamaica, the rise of outsourcing has fuelled investments in commercial real estate, whereby local property owners develop space for firms entering the market or seeking to expand.

In 2021, outsourcing companies occupied more than 2.2 million square feet of space, including 200,000 square feet of new construction completed that year.

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