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BPO deal to boost sector skills in SA

ITWEB / 02 JULY 2018 - 08.14 / ADMIRE MOYO

lobal business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Webhelp has partnered with not-for-profit organisation Harambee to boost BPO skills in SA.

The organisations aim to train about 400 South Africans with BPO skills by 2020.

The Paris-headquartered Webhelp offers data-led customer service and contact centre services as part of its role in the field of BPO. Harambee is a not-for-profit social enterprise with experience in building solutions and innovations that can solve the global youth unemployment challenge.

Securing South African talent is key to competing effectively by delivering comparable or better customer experiences, says Webhelp.

Webhelp says SA has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. According to the 2018 Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics SA in the first quarter of 2018, in SA there were 3.3 million youths between the ages of 15 to 24 who were not in employment, education or training.

Business Process Enabling South Africa, the umbrella industry association for the BPO sector in SA, estimates the sector employs approximately 200 000 people, of which 20 000 are employed thanks to foreign direct investment.

"Given the attractiveness of South Africa as a business process outsourcing destination, it is clear this sector has the potential to make a significant impact on youth unemployment," says Cathy Kalamaras, Webhelp SA's managing executive for people.

"Government recognises the potential of this sector too, which is why, to help solve the youth unemployment crisis, it is investing in skills development specific to BPO and also at a grass roots level in order to cultivate a future workforce for this important sector."

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, since 2012, the local offshore BPO market has experienced compounded average growth of 25% year-on-year and now has around 30 000 offshore jobs, with the UK being the leading buyer of South African BPO services, followed by Australia and the US, which is rapidly growing.

However, Kalamaras says, to remain competitive and able to meet rising demand, BPO employers cannot rely on government alone to bridge the skills gap.

"We need to take responsibility ourselves to ensure we create opportunities to employ and empower talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to both power this sector and help raise people out of poverty."

Webhelp entered the South Africa BPO sector in 2013, and Kalamaras says the firm has learnt from experience that the key to creating sustainable job opportunities and, therefore, business growth, is finding and nurturing the right skills.

For the international market in particular, she adds, securing South African talent is key to competing effectively by delivering comparable or better customer experiences.

"Young people are a core component of the value we deliver to our clients, and our business simply wouldn't be as successful if we were unable to attract and retain this valuable demographic."

She points out the organisations' success is due to the fact that Webhelp and Harambee have jointly developed a strong proposition to attract skills to the sector. In addition to opening up rewarding career opportunities for SA's youth, a quality pipeline of talent is being built to support Webhelp's business growth in this region, Kalamaras says.

"Thanks to Harambee's scientific matching tools and behavioural readiness programmes, we have been able to build a sector-specific competence profile, meaning we are able to recruit young people who are a good match for our business and our clients. Not only does this make the hiring process easier, it also reduces the quality and cost risks associated with hiring the wrong people.

"As a company, we are committed to tackling youth unemployment, so in addition to our partnership with Harambee, we have responded to the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition's challenge to its members to hire 100 000 impact workers by the end of 2020. The Impact Sourcing Challenge is the first to specifically focus on impact sourcing as a way to increase employment and career development opportunities for disadvantaged people, and Webhelp South Africa has pledged to hire 400 new impact workers within this timeframe."



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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