Saturday, November 26, 2005

Outsourcing is transforming the Philippines

Skilled Filipino professionals go abroad to work as clerks, pencil pushers, phone operators, diaper changers, support staff, people behind computers, bank tellers, and all around doers of odd jobs. A few years from now, many of them should no longer have to do so. This is because many of these types of work are coming down here in droves via the new industry we call outsourcing, a sort of a “new international division of labor” that is currently transforming the Philippine economy. It may also help transform Philippine politics, hopefully for the better.

Those who are into this business call it “business process outsourcing” or “information technology and information technology-enabled services” (ITES). This kind of business ranges from voice outsourcing (essentially call centers) and non-voice which include long a list of activities including software development, medical transcription, animation, back office operation and shared services, engineering design, and even litigation support.” Activities like animation have been in the Philippines as early as twenty years ago. Yet outsourcing in general seems to have surfaced into the Filipinos’ consciousness since the last five years. Now it’s already a US$ 2 billion “export” industry. That figure is about one-fourth of what the country gets from overseas workers’ dollar remittances each year. Employment has reached more than 140,000 and still counting.

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