The Philippines is now officially the leading provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) services worldwide. We always know someone who is working or has worked in an outsourcing business; as of the moment, there are 600,000 estimated to work in the BPO industry. The Philippines commands a 350,000 workforce in the call center industry, better compared to India's 330,000. The Philippines is also expected to generate $5.7B in revenues, while India is set to earn $5.5B by the end of 2010.
The pervasive effects of globalization and the steady influx of information technology paved the way for high-quality, low-cost services to be availed of by sending locations (i.e., outsourcing companies). While these are developments to be applauded, we must also consider the costs, especially social. A cost-benefit analysis of our BPO situation is warranted so that we ensure that what is happening to our countrymen, especially our youth, is a good one.
Since almost half of the BPO employees work at night, they have experienced "sleep disorders, fatigue, eye strain and body pains." Also, it "create[s] an atmosphere conducive to caffeine, cigarettes, and other addictive substances." Worse, as discussed in our ICT class, incidence of HIV infection is higher in correlation to workers in this industry. Not to mention the higher risk of being mugged along dangerous streets for commuting in the wee hours of the morning.
Given the economic significance of our BPO industry, which Senator M. Defensor-Santiago calls as our "booming sunshine industry", our policymakers must do something to help alleviate these social costs. Health-related benefits like medical insurance and stress management programs, as well as employer-provided transportation, are examples of measures that will aid a workforce that may be beholden only to the color of money, but at the expense of their physical well-being. When we think of medium- and long-range solutions to these problems, our being number one in the industry will be geared to last.
Richmund Sta. Lucia, Post # 4
1. On Philippines as number one: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20101204-306912/Its-official-PH-bests-India-as-No-1-in-BPO
2. On the social costs of BPO: http://www.firstexind.com/news/April09/17a.html