One of the most notable intrinsic strengths of the BPO industry in the Philippines is the sizable and skilled English-fluent labour force available. In this week’s blog we take a snapshot of the graduate stats today demonstrating the sheer numbers of highly capable candidates entering the workforce every year.
A Sizable Educated Talent Pool
- The Philippines is the 3rd largest English-speaking country in the world
- The population as of 2010 was almost 96 million with a labour force of over 40 million – and these numbers are growing every year
- 95% literacy rate nationwide – The Philippines has a respectable illiteracy rate for a third world country. According to the 2002 estimate of the World Bank, the illiteracy rate of the population above 15 years of age in the Philippines is only above 5%. This estimate is considerably lower than the average for all economies in East Asia and Pacific (13%) and for all lower-middle income countries (13%) (Rodolfo, 2005).
- The international perception of the Filipinos’ English language competency and overall trainability is positive because of the high number of college graduates in the workforce compared to other countries, including the US and India. Bruce Campbell, corporate operations officer for a US owned BPO, Sitel Philippines, told a news conference in August 2007 that most, if not all skilled workers in the Philippines have college degrees compared to their counterparts in the US who are mostly high school graduates (Cabreza, 2007).
- Philippine college graduates have an edge over other Asian colleges as they generally follow a Western-based legal and accounting curriculum and internationally recognized certifications
In a Class of its own
According to BPAP reports in 2014 and the Commission of Higher Education Philippines 2005-2015, Philippine universities produce nearly 500,000 college graduates per year across a range of disciplines that align well with the BPO industry.
The capabilities of universities in the Philippines are also reflected in a study according to Business World (2014) wherein 1,259 of 2,300 higher education schools in the Philippines offer business degrees. Based on the Business World report, this number is higher when compared to those of other countries and their respective learning institutions. For example, Thailand has 108 schools that offer business degrees; Vietnam has 29 and Singapore only 5.
An International Attraction
Multinational and smaller companies alike have been drawn to the high number of college graduates in the work force and are impressed by the country’s contemporary culture that values college degrees. Each year, the Philippine educational system produces graduates who come from business administration and related courses, engineering and technology, fine and applied arts, law and jurisprudence, mathematics and computer science, medical and allied professions, and natural science. These are the types of skills needed to man the growing non-voice BPO that is emerging (Karatas, 2010). The large numbers of well-trained, customer-focussed, English speaking graduates help make the Philippines stand out as a destination for businesses to outsource some of their business processes (Barrios, Guaran, Lansangan, Nalica, Santos & Sarte, 2013).