‘Drama and dance’ needed to improve BPO soft skills gap?

Could this have been inspired by Steve Wozniak’s appearance in Dancing with the Stars?

The academe sector in the Philippines believes that for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to successfully move up the value chain, college students should engage more in performing arts–like “drama and dance”–to develop the soft skills needed by BPOs.

At an executive briefing by the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPA/P), issues were raised on how the local academe can supply the demand for more increasingly educated and specialized workforce in the BPO field, maintaining that English and even technical skills are never enough since there’s a need for graduates to also have soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, courtesy, business management skills, among others.

Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. president of the Ateneo de Manila University, who gave a talk on “Academic Standards and Direction,” recommended that students should participate in the performing arts.

“Our answer to the problem is that students must engage more in performing arts for them to gain self-confidence and trust in themselves,” said Fr. Nebres. “They can do drama, theater, and dance.”

The priest claimed participation in the less classically performing arts like “debate” can even help students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills, which are some of the major soft skills required in today’s BPO jobs.

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Noel Duldulao, country human resource director of Sitel Philippines, suggested in the forum that more managerial trainings should be done since there is a need for more managers to stir the business.

Meanwhile, Barry Marshall, country operations manager of financial services company JPMorgan, said English and communication skills remain essential but gaining soft skills has a long term sustainable value.

According to BPA/P, growth in the Philippine BPO industry has averaged 50 per cent annually in the last three years with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue of over 50 per cent, and unemployment growth of 45 per cent.

In addition to growth, the services being moved into the country are increasing in complexity, moving from contact center to specialized outsourcing services ranging from back-office processing, software development, legal and medical transcription and other support services, digital animation, and game development.

BPA/P reported that further growth is expected with the current economic crisis, as outsourcing becomes a financially viable option for countries affected by the slowdown.

The group added there are three addressable opportunities that the country has yet to tap, such as BPO itself pegged at US$160 billion, IT outsourcing at $170 billion, and engineering/design at $120 billion.

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