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And now a standardised test for BPO jobs
Priya Ganapati in Bangalore |
June 12, 2003 12:30 IST
The business process outsourcing and IT-enabled services business in India will have its own standardized test soon.
Called the BPO Skills Assessment Test (BSAT), it has been devised and will be administered by an autonomous body called the Board for IT Education Standards (BITES).
The BSAT, which has been devised on the lines of standardised tests like GMAT and SAT, will assess various skills and turn out scores that could be used by BPO and IT-enabled services companies to rate potential employees.
BITES is a non-profit society set up two years ago by the Government of Karnataka and the IT industry in partnership with the local academia.
It comprises representatives from the government, educational and industry bodies and the state's education secretary, IT secretary, vice chancellor of the Visveswariah Technological University, director of Indian Institute of Information Technology - Bangalore, and the director of National Center for Software Technology.
Among the other high profile representatives are Nasscom Chairman Som Mittal; Novell's former managing director Vikram Shah, Mind Tree Consulting vice president Subroto Bagchi, and Infosys Technologies deputy managing director Gopala Krishnan.
BITES aims to enhance education standards in IT by accrediting educational institutions and offering educational support services for updating IT skills, including certification courses and teacher training programmes.
The BSAT test will check for communication skills, grammar, clarity, accent, logical reasoning, quantitative skills and keyboard skills.
"Companies can ask potential employees their BSAT score and keep a certain score as the cutoff level for their organisation. So only those who score above it can appear for the interview. This will greatly bring down recruitment costs for companies," says Vivek Kulkarni, IT Secretary, Government of Karnataka.
The test is expected to be launched in a pilot mode in less than 10 days. It will be offered at a nominal price, which is expected to be less than Rs 200. The test duration could be about 60 minutes to 90 minutes.
"We are validating the test process with technical support companies, call center companies and BPO service providers to check its effectiveness. We hope that it will help sift out the talented and the skilled people from the masses who want to work with IT-enabled services companies," says Kulkarni.
Currently, companies like AOL and Dell in Bangalore are working with BITES to test the efficacy of BSAT.
Today, recruitment costs take a big chunk of a ITES company's time and resources. The attrition rate in the call center and BPO business stands at over 40 percent and hiring good employees remains a company's biggest challenge.
"On an average for every hire we have to interview between 15-20 people. This involves a huge cost and time element. If this test is effective, it could greatly simplify the process," says a manager with Wipro Spectramind, one of the largest BPO companies in India.
Although most BPO companies seemed enthusiastic about the idea of a standardised test, they are cautious about how good it will turn out to be.
Before they can commit to replacing or at least doing away with a large chunk of their internal recruitment processes by imposing faith in the BSAT scores they want to be convinced of its ability.
"I think it is a fantastic idea. But I have not seen the test yet. If it is good and works, then we are willing to use the BSAT scores during our recruitment process. But we will benchmark it against our internal tests to see if it matches up to our standards," says Akshay Bhargava, CEO, Progeon, the BPO subsidiary of Infosys.