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Home > India > Business > Business Headline > Report

BPOs to attract diverse talent pool

Ishita Russell in New Delhi | February 06, 2008 12:12 IST

The required skills have become higher, creating opportunities for a more specialised workforce in this sector.

For long, a job with a business process outsourcing (BPO) company has been looked upon as a stepping stone to another, longer-lasting career. Such has been the attrition in the industry.

According to estimates, about a lakh people join the Indian outsourcing industry every year, of which 15-20 per cent leave in the first year itself.

This is changing. As the industry veers from predominantly voice-based services to more and more non-voice services, it is being increasingly looked upon as a long-term career.

"BPOs are looking beyond voice-based services towards more high-end services," says Anish Zaveri, associate director, KPMG Advisory.

With this, the required skills have become higher, creating opportunities for a more specialised workforce to come into the sector.

According to analysts, the industry goes through three phases of transition starting with voice-based services and moving on to back office services to knowledge process outsourcing. The diminishing share of voice-based services is only a natural progression.

"This shift not only brings maturity to the field but also ensures stability," says Venkatesh Roddam, chief executive officer, Nipuna BPO.

HCL [Get Quote] BPO is looking to hire more specialised employees. "Currently 70 per cent of our services are voice-based, but we're planning to shift it to 50 per cent in the coming years," says its head, Ranjit Narsimhan.

These sentiments are echoed by Ramit Sethi, senior vice-president with Wipro [Get Quote], who feels that hiring is dependent on the demands of the customers, who now want an end-to-end bouquet, a product mix for the long run and not just voice-based services.

"Wipro is also aiming at getting its voice to non-voice service ratio to a 50-50 proportion from the current 70-30 ratio in favour of voice-based services."

Zaveri says with sectors like retail and hospitality emerging, the basic training in English provides BPO employees with easy exit options. Direct employment in this sector grew by 31 per cent to reach 415,000 in 2006 and is projected to exceed 545,000 in the current fiscal.

This may create a domino effect. It will not only lead to a change in the hiring process, but also have an impact on the wage structure and the amount spent on training.

"There will be an obvious increase in the salaries provided to specialised people and the investment in training will see an increase of 20-25 per cent. However, the margins that we'll get from providing high end services will compensate for that," says Roddam.

Nipuna progressed from earning 70-75 per cent of its revenues from voice-based services to tilting the ratio to 60 per cent in favour of non-voice services.

According to Nasscom, customer interaction services accounted for 46 per cent of the total services provided in 2006. Non-voice services accounting for the other 54 per cent included finance and accounting, HR and others.

"We are streamlining into financial and accounting. We are looking at hiring people with basic knowledge of that field, even graduates in commerce or related fields of accounting," says Narsimhan.

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