AS JAMAICA looks to attract diverse jobs in the outsourcing sector, local and international firms on the island are working to create employment opportunities in knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), information technology outsourcing (ITO), and shared services.
In the western part of the island, the Jamaican outsourcing company Contax360 has made sure to get a head start. They have integrated these higher-value services in their offerings and currently employ agents who provide not only contact-centre services, but financial and accounting services, data support, healthcare process outsourcing, legal process outsourcing, and consulting services.
The company has managed to fill these jobs because of on-the-job training, and it is expected that with the implementation of the Global Services Sector (GSS) Project, which has a skills-advancement programme in areas such as Robotics and IT management, more Jamaicans will gain the knowledge required to take on a diverse range of jobs.
CEO of Contax360, Jacqueline Sutherland, and the Organisation’s Director of Technology, Caray McKenzie, explained that as the company has matured and adapted to a more technologically driven market, so has its employees.
“Advancement driven by automation doesn’t necessarily mean that people are out of work,” McKenzie insisted. “It leads to further training and upskilling.”
He went on to chart the growth of Contax360 since its inception 12 years ago.
“We’ve moved from simply taking phone calls,” McKenzie said. “We started off as a company that did collections for clients. Then we did sales and then upgraded the skill set of our staff from a basic contact call-centre level to a full-fledged contact centre to what we call a business process outsourcing company.”
Contax360 is now offering KPO services, including managed security services, finance and accounting, and legal process outsourcing. The company continues to upgrade itself and has matured its offerings to meet the increased demands of today’s clients.
Several of the company’s staff are now involved in KPO, an area that the Jamaican Government sees as the future of the country’s global digital services (GDS) sector. Because of this vision, the partners under the GSS Project, such as the Ministry of Youth, Education and Information, JAMPRO, HEART/NTA, and the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), are focused on empowering more workers with the knowledge to work in this area.
CEO of Contax360 Jacqueline Sutherland points out that in addition to educational institutions working towards teaching these skills, the required education will also come from companies that are expanding into KPO and providing the necessary on-the-job training.
She gives the example of her own company’s experience with legal processing. The organisation started doing basic collections seven years ago but expanded into more complex legal-process outsourcing, providing garnishments and other types of legal collections for US law firms.
Sutherland revealed: “We’ve taken agents with basic collection and customer service-type skills, and we have been able to enhance their knowledge and capabilities to provide more legal-collection services for several law firms.”
She went on to say: “A lot of that training came specifically from the clients, so we had some of the attorneys or the legal attachés at those companies come and work with the agents to help them understand the terminology and ways to process certain types of transactions for law firms. They got very hands-on, on-the-job training.”
Training and mentorship programmes allow Contax360 employees to increase their skills, advance their positions within the company, and become more marketable across a variety of industries.
“It’s not just technical training or training for legal-process outsourcing,” McKenzie said. “We have a mentorship programme where even if we don’t have the positions available, for example a supervisory or management position, we will still look for staff members who have the potential and train them to that level.”
The Contax360 executive says he has seen staff move on to supervisory and management positions within the GDS sector and in other industries such as the hotel industry and the IT sector.
“I’ve seen so many former staff, and I ask them what they are doing now, and they are directors, managers, doing well for themselves, and we are proud of that,” he stated enthusiastically. “I tell my staff all the time that if you are working here, even if I can’t promote you or pay you more, you must be able to command a higher salary and position when you leave.”
Next Stage of Development
The next stage of development being pursued by the organisation is advancing digital services. This will involve jobs that are more heavily steeped in data analytics and business intelligence.
“We will require staff that have a certain base level of knowledge, educated people with degrees, in anything that has to do with numbers, data, and statistics.” McKenzie said. “IT degrees, computer science degrees, those would be helpful in helping us drive towards those kinds of jobs.”
Sutherland added, “I think Jamaica certainly has the talent and the ability for us to grow our resource pool to support that.”
McKenzie believes that local companies that keep pace with constantly emerging technologies and services at the international level will naturally propel the Jamaican workforce into the future.
“The more we can market Jamaica as a destination for not just call-centre services, but the higher-value services, the more we can do for Jamaica with training, upskilling, and marketing our potential,” he emphasised. “The things that we are doing now are definitely where we are going to go next.”
Contax360 is located in Montego Bay. The firm currently employs almost 600 Jamaicans.
Source: The Jamaica Gleaner