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How BPO jobs are taking on a new avatar

The good old BPO jobs are still here, albeit in a more evolved format in terms of business demands and skill required. Find here what the segment looks like today.

By TimesJobs.com on May 9, 2016

Yojana Sharma, TimesJobs.com
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The good news is that BPO jobs are still around, the salaries too are at par with other segment (at least in the fresher bracket) but the only thing that has changed is the nature of segments it is catering to.

Timesjobs.com spoke to headhunters, consultants and also analysed jobs data. The conclusion is that this job sector is still in demand but now only the serious ones turn up for find employment here.

“BPO sector is growing at a pace 25-30 per cent in India,” says recruitment firm GlobalHunt’s MD Sunil Goel. “It is a big foreign currency earning industry and one of the largest employee-driven industries in India and it has been able to create a remarkable impact in terms of employment generation for professionals and which has generated the huge buying capacity of young generation in India to impact consumer and retail markets. It has a history of more than 15 years now and it has become a mature and structured industry and dependency of the business has grown up and a lot on this industry’s support,” he says.

A similar observation is shared by placement firms. “The industry has move from being just a voice-based one to non-voice and concentrating on more value added services,” said spokesperson from Gratitude India, a firm that places candidates in BPO and KPO companies. They have been hiring candidates for the last 15 years and say that the industry is much more mature and stable now.

Shifting Tides
“When BPO industry started, it was perceived as a job where entire youngsters wanted to be associated. This is very similar to how startups have caught the attention of today’s youngsters. However, people didn’t take the BPO industry seriously and attrition figures were very high. However, with times, two things have happened. Currently, BPO industry is not the preferred choice of youngsters with so many options springing up and only candidates who actually think they can fit into the BPO industry actually join,” says the spokesperson.

This is actually a pertinent observation. Back in 2002-2003, BPOs had caught on every youngster’s mind. They were synonyms with good salary, American lifestyle and night shifts. At that point of time, it was common to see fresh college graduates happily taking on BPO jobs. Gradually the sector expanded and more segments like KPO and LPO came in.

However, the lure for these jobs faded as people realised that these jobs could not help sustain a long-term career.

“Now the jobs in the sector are limited but they are far more evolved profiles than merely handling calls and outbound customers. There has been a significant drop on the salary part too. Also, not all call centers are operating in night. About 50 per cent of BPO jobs are now based in day time,” says a headhunter from Delhi-based Shivalik Recruiters. They are currently hiring for BPO process on behalf of Wipro.

The Change Makers
The industry has seen changes in these aspects-

  • Qualifications & skills: “10 years ago, most of the outsourced jobs which were coming to India where voice and customer care which is considered to be the lower end job in BPO industry. Since last 5-7 years the dynamics of BPO industry has changed. There is a large pool of young population with professional qualification like engineering, CA, MBA and PhDs. All across the companies in the developed market are lured to opt for an outsourcing center in India either through third party service or by setting up their own captive centers. India has started taking most of the complex jobs including analytics, research, decision sciences, actuary, finance and accounts reporting and thorough professionals with good academic background are recruited to do these jobs,” says Sunil Goel.
  • Salary – A decade ago, salaries were on a higher scale when compared to other industries. “People perceived that it’s easy money. Now, good salaries are available only for good roles and good jobs. For example, a manager for a KPO or LPO is paid at par with managerial roles in other sectors. The fresher salary however has come down comparatively. For example, the joining salary for a fresh graduate in BPO in day shift is about Rs 3-4 lakh,” says a headhunter from Shivalik Recruiters.
  • Job prospect – Earlier, people thought that BPO jobs are a stop gap measure till the person gets a better job. Now only people serious about a career in BPO approach the sector and the persistent ones can actually make a good career too.

Negative News Doesn’t Bother

We checked with recruiters if US presidential contender Donald Trump’s “anti-outsourcing to India” and other such news mean a negative impact. “Politicians resort to popular rhetoric to win votes during Elections. Obama had made a similar claim when he contested for the first time for presidential elections. However, BPO industry has only grown in all these years under Obama’s leadership,” says Gratitude India.

“Anti-outsourcing slogans in the US have been raised earlier as well but the question is that will the companies will have this much of resource available with diversified skills and capability at 1/5th of the cost. So the BPO as an industry has become the need of the business than simply outsourcing the activity from one source to other location,” says Sunil Goel.

Changing Gears
Like we mentioned earlier, the industry has changed its profile. The roles, jobs and skills demanded too have changed. “The industry has stabilised and is looking at Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to save cost and tap the talent pools in these cities. Industry has moved to more value-added services as India faces huge competition in voice-based services from The Philippines,” says Gratitude India spokesperson.

The last point was hinted well by Amar Ganeshan, director-global solutions, Kelly Services, in an earlier conversation with TimesJobs.com. He had pointed to a trend in overseas jobs, saying, “Many multinational companies are setting up their corporate service centres in India. That is because the cost of living in the native country is too huge as compared to placing staff here. Further, the value of Indian rupee right now is little soft as compared the dollar. And Indians are skilled, speak English and have a great global approach. Hence jobs perceived to be overseas jobs are now coming in India big time. However, both companies and candidates need to brace themselves because The Philippines is fast catching up as a strong competitor,” he says.