By Carmencita A. Carillo, Business World
DAVAO CITY — The information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Davao Region is pushing for more specialists in software development and other non-voice IT services in view of the projected growth in business process outsourcing (BPO) in Davao City beginning this year.
Lawyer Samuel R. Matunog, president of the private organization ICT Davao, Inc., said the region should take advantage of the BPO industry’s high demand for workers, particularly in the health care and local government sectors.
“There is so much demand for software development, not only in health care but also in the local governments, but there are few software developers,” said Mr. Matunog, who is also board chairman of Segworks Technologies Corp., which provides software products and services primarily to the health care market.
He noted that in the Davao Region, IT students comprise only about 5% of the annual number of graduates who enter the work force.
Meanwhile, up to 9,000 slots for BPO workers are expected to be opened this year from existing and new BPO operators in the city.
“BPO companies are looking at Davao not only because of the business climate here but also because it has an economic zone complex for BPO,” said Ivan C. Cortez, chief of the Davao City Investment Promotion Center (DCIPC).
Locators in areas sanctioned as special zones by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) are entitled to incentives.
Among the PEZA-accredited ICT-BPO facilities in Davao City are Damosa IT Park, Filandia IT Center, Luisa Avenue Square IT Building, NCCC IT Center, and Robinsons Cybergate Davao.
Mr. Cortez, in an earlier interview, said the DCIPC is assisting other property developers who want to apply for a PEZA accreditation.
There are more than 50 companies in the city’s ICT sector — many under the micro, small, and medium enterprises category — engaged in voice and non-voice activity, animation, graphics, content development and engineering service and design.
One of the biggest players, Sutherland Global Services (SGS), currently with 2,000 agents, is set to expand by hiring up to 1,000 additional workers by end-2015.
SGS Davao, on the other hand, is in the process of hiring call center agents for two United States-based telecommunications companies as well as technical support workers for a another US-based anti-virus software firm.
Carve, a homegrown non-voice BPO company, is planning to expand its work force to 1,500 in the next five years.
Megaworld Corp., through its subsidiary Suntrust Properties, Inc., has started groundwork for its P1.2 billion Davao Finance Center, a 16-storey building for offices and BPO operations.
Jericho P. Go, senior vice-president of Megaworld, said the company is counting on BPO firms already operating in the company’s other facilities to locate in Davao when the Finance Center is completed within the next two years.
“The Finance Center is expected to provide employment to 8,000 workers in the BPO information technology and related industries… with up to 150 companies already in our portfolio for the various townships including Accenture and other big locators,” Mr. Go said.