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PM says BPO sector must shift to higher-value services

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness is calling on players in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to start shifting from call centre operations to higher-value services.

“We, the Government, understand that this industry is susceptible to rapid change. My view is that the industry will not go away, but …artificial intelligence will transform the industry,” he pointed out.

“So, Jamaica cannot rest comfortably at the level that we are in. (The industry) must increase its performance levels from merely being telephone operators to absorb more of the high-value skills. [The sector] has to significantly and rapidly move from the business process engineering and development, to the knowledge process,” he added.

The prime minister, who was speaking at the official opening of the Montego Bay Free Zone Company Limited’s Data Entry Building Number 7 in St James on Wednesday, said the level of training must increase to meet the growing needs of the BPO sector.

“It cannot be that we have investors here and we are not supplying rapidly the quality trained workers. We have to get going on that in a more aggressive way,” Holness said.

The prime minister, at the same time, lauded the Port Authority of Jamaica, which operates the Montego Bay Free Zone Company Limited, for undertaking work to provide additional BPO space.

“I gather now you will be above 10,600 persons employed and that the BPO sector, in terms of its employment, is now in excess of 36,000 persons. I am certain that before the year is out, we should be close to 40,000, if not passing it,” Holness said.

Data Entry Building Number 7 houses BPO companies Concentrix Global Jamaica and Unique Vacations Limited, the latter of which is the booking arm of Sandals Resort International. Both entities employ 2,000 people combined.

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