Could call centers be the employment opportunity of the future? It may sound like a dead end job to some, but other countries in the region and the world are capitalizing on the centers as an abundant employer.
And now, Belize - which has a few call centers - wants to capitalize on the opportunity afforded to this country as an English Speaking nation and maximize its call-center potential.
Except, it's being called, BPO, Business Processing Outsourcing - and a Specialist Training Program finished today.
Education Minister Patrick Faber handed over certificates to over sixty-six graduates in a programme that is training many more.
BELTRAIDE's CEO Mike Singh discussed this growing industry and the importance of training:..
Mike Singh - CEO, BELTRAIDE
"We've been really going out and marketing for new companies to come in to invest in setting up centers and one of the things we found is that they said that part of their issue is; 1) knowing where to find employees 2) Having people that have the basic training that they can add on their own training for their own job, so we thought lets jump start it. This first session we are
going to do 225 trained employees and you saw the first 66 I believe today, so we have 3 graduation sessions - 2 more after this. So we thought lets us create the pool of employees, we are going to have them registered, certified, so when we go out looking for these companies to come in we can then just hand them a list."
"We focus on business etiquette and business ethics, having them understand that they might have to work Christmas day, understand what that means. Understand what it means to work a night shift. I don't think it's as far fetch as you think. The tourism industry has already kind of led a lot of people down that path already. This is different, you have to show up because remember that these contractor are selling labor, they are not selling a product. They are buying your labor from you for a certain price and reselling it to another company in the US or to their own company at a different price. So if you don't show up at work or if you are not productive at work then it means that they are not getting a good deal for the labor they are buying from you which means they can't sell it at the best value. We have to have people understand that the commodity you are selling is your time."
Douglas Naj, Benque Viejo
"The main purpose of me getting into this program is because I've work with it, BPO in Guatemala City and basically I have seen how it worked in Guatemala. There are a lot of people like about 6,000 - 7,000 people are employed by this BPO industry in Guatemala City, so I came here and have the opportunity to start building this industry here in Belize. So as we go further in - the more people they employ the more opportunity we have going up as supervisors, managers and so on. In Guatemala, that is a Spanish speaking country - their first language is Spanish. In Belize or first language is English, even though we speak creole our main language is English, so that give us a great advantage over all the Central American countries who have already BPO in their country. El Salvador and Costa Rica, then Colombia there is another big one, up to the Philippines and India who are not English speaking countries. We are a English speaking country, yet we don't have that industry here. I don't know why it is that we don't have it yet, but hopefully this is the start of it."
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"It's the way to go. The use of the technology, the fact that Belize's population is so small and might not be able to do other things, this makes them immediately employable, so it can have a tremendous impact on the economy of Belize. We have seen that happening already and with the kind of expansion that is promise we are definitely counting on it as one of the main areas that we can use to develop our country."
A representative of BPO Transparent - which runs one call center in Belize - addressed the gathering and announced that shortly it plans to employ 200 hundred more workers.