What impact does the BPO industry have in Colombia?
The BPO industry has many advantages in terms of the social development it fosters, which is why the government is betting so strongly on the sector. We have to talk about the jobs created by the industry. We closed 2020 with 605,000 formal jobs, which is extremely important in Colombia. Of the total employee population, 60% are women. Some are the heads of their families; others are students in university or technical schools. More than 80% of employees are young people between 18 and 30 years old. We are a young sector, and we are a part of the professional development of young people in the country. We are extremely flexible so people can study at the same time. In terms of qualifications, we provide opportunities to grow professional skills. The BPO sector is growing significantly, and last year it was vitally important to support the country's economic recovery by continuing to work during the pandemic and also create new jobs and growth in a difficult year.
What makes Colombia an interesting BPO destination for international companies?
First, Colombia is the open door to enter the rest of Latin America, geographically. It is close to the US and other countries in terms of infrastructure due to airport availability and tier 1, 2, 3 cities. Colombia gives companies a large choice of regions of where to settle because tier 3 cities also offer excellent conditions and human talent. The government's commitment to the sector is key, not just in terms of political stability, but also through incentives such as the recent FTZ decree. These show investors that the government has plans to be part of the evolution of the sector.
Which campaigns are being led by BPrO for the benefit of the industry?
We have hosted the customer experience summit every year for the last 20 years, in order to give companies all the training and news about the industry worldwide. We host awards to recognize the work that companies are doing in Colombia. Those awards are important because they help us improve and show the world how things are done in Colombia. Another important set of actions done by BPrO are our collaborations with SENA, the national apprentice services. We are part of the board or the roundtable for the sector. We work side by side with companies and SENA in order to have all the skills and training that companies need for their workforce. We are talking about not just soft skills but also specific skills they need. In terms of human capital, the most important things are bilingualism, tech skills, and soft skills. English and Portuguese proficiency is also important. Even if we do not have many people who speak English, we can aim to work with the Hispanic market in the US. We have great examples that prove we can support the Spanish-speaking market. We are working with SENA and the Ministry of Education to work on the first levels of education to have high levels of English. When companies start working in Colombia, they have their own institutes, where they train A1 students up to B2, so they invest heavily in that.
How do you envision the development of the sector in Colombia?
We are growing despite the pandemic and all the restrictions, and I hope the BPO sector experiences an acceleration in every sense. We have been learning and doing different things and setting the precedent for agile technology adoption. Digital transformation is key in every sector and has progressed quicker than imagined. It empowers teams and lets us do things differently, not only as a BPO or outsourcer, but for clients that hire this type of services, because they expect agility. In the years to come, the focus of the sector will be being more efficient and accurate and keep working with clients in all sectors of the economy.