Thursday 1 October, 2020

GSAJ aims to strengthen viability of local BPO sector

President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica, Gloria Henry

President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica, Gloria Henry

The following piece was contributed by the Global Services Association of Jamaica, headed by Gloria Henry

In the past few weeks, there have been few industries as consistently under the spotlight as the Global Services/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, due in part to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) among employees of Alorica, which has been cited as the main contributor to Jamaica’s recent spike in cases.

While bad news makes for good headlines, however, not enough attention is being paid to the 63 GSS operators who have implemented the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) COVID-19 guidelines, safeguarding the health and safety of the nearly 40,000 employees of the sector.

Among member companies, there have been only four reported cases of the virus, all related to employees working remotely.

This success is not coincidental, rather, it is the result of concerted action and partnership among members to develop and implement measures and best practices to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While it would be highly inappropriate and grossly unfair to suggest that had Alorica been a GSAJ member the outbreak among its employees would have been prevented, it is clear that the synergies derived from membership are measurable and heralded as beneficial by operators and employees alike.

The Global Services Association of Jamaica (formerly the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica) is a member led advocacy group of operators founded in 2012 to represent, grow and diversify Jamaica’s global services industry, while and attracting and supporting companies in the industry as they create jobs across the country.

We are a relatively young association representing a relatively young industry: only in the past 10 years have BPO and the GSS really taken flight and not until 2016 was legislation put in place to regulate the sector. Just since 2020 has the entire industry come under the regulatory ambit of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), which has the authority to monitor activities of approved operators.

In the past few years, the government has recognised the unique ability of the GSS in job creation and as an engine of growth for the Jamaican economy and has identified the sector as one on track to becoming the country’s largest contributor to GDP in the next 10-15 years.

The government has also recognised that for Jamaica to reap success in the GSS, we must be able to leverage world class infrastructure, state of the art technology, workforce skills qualifications and a conducive business environment to move up the value chain in diversifying our GSS to incorporate Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) as well as Legal and Medical Outsourcing.

The GSAJ is clear about its goals and ambitions: we are in no way interested in replicating or replacing the regulatory authority of the JSEZA. Instead, the association is concerned with being an effective conduit towards creating a more market-driven, globally competitive sector, resilient to internal and external shocks.

As we pursue Jamaica’s GSS success globally, the association provides a critical service for the industry in growth, adaptability and messaging when engaging with stakeholders. If we are to achieve that GDP goal, it is imperative that all the available resources and information are available in real time to all operators. This must also be shored up with readily available resources to assist with the implementation and a collective approach to business development and marketing that GSAJ, JSEZA, JAMPRO and the government in general provides.

In the context we find ourselves today: a young industry with a new regulatory framework seeking to rapidly transition to higher-value output and facing the simultaneous transformative shifts specific to our industry such as artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as the global pandemic affecting all facets of human life, we see membership in the GSAJ as essential for operators in Jamaica.

The experience of the industry during this time of crisis, indeed, proves how critical it is for the industry and its stakeholders to have a mutually beneficial level of constructive engagement. We further suggest that it is in the best interest as a body to have an independent voice leveraging the global expertise of the Fortune 500 and multi-national organizations that comprise GSAJ for the benefit of the sector, its employees and various linkages through which thousands of other Jamaicans benefit in the provision of transportation, food & beverage, utilities and other services.

Nearly 70 companies, including BPO’s and KPO’s have already willingly subscribed to the vision and leadership provided by GSAJ. If it is our objective to protect and nurture Jamaica’s next big GDP earning sector, especially in these times, it can only be in our collective interest to create the infrastructural framework while continuing to leverage our members’ global know-how to ensure we explore all options to protect our stake in the future of how many of the jobs we take for granted will be done.

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