Young J’cans get BPO training, job placement
MORE THAN 400 young Jamaicans have completed comprehensive skill development training for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the past three years under the Avasant Digital Youth Employment Initiative, which has consistently secured jobs for approximately 95 per cent of its graduates.
The programme, which is being implemented by the American-based Avasant Foundation – the not-for-profit arm of management consulting firm Avasant – recently concluded eight five-week training courses in Kingston and Montego Bay. A total of 247 students graduated this year, with many of them already obtaining jobs in the sector.
Chitra Rajeshwari, executive director of the Avasant Foundation, noted that choosing Jamaica as the starting point for the expansion of the initiative into Latin America and the Caribbean has been justified based on the results to date.
“We already offered this training in Africa and India, and when we considered moving to this region, Jamaica stood out because the BPO industry was already set up, growing and creating jobs. We saw the opportunity to address youth unemployment by offering training and facilitating job placement in the BPO sector, and it has been a great success,” she said.
Rajeshwari explained that Avasant’s pre-existing business relationship with JAMPRO, the national trade and investment promotion agency, also influenced the decision. She added that JAMPRO has since been an important partner, along with the University of Technology (UTech), Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, and several individual BPO firms that have provided trainers and job opportunities. The United States Agency for International Development is also a key sponsor through its Fi Wi Jamaica Project.
Rajeshwari indicated that the initiative has grown significantly since it first started with a pilot programme for 30 students in 2015. She pointed out that it targets young men and women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old with socially and economically challenged backgrounds. They are given a daily stipend, textbooks and notebooks during the five-week course, which also has a site visit component to view the operations of a BPO firm first-hand.
“We teach them communication skills, customer service, how to be professional, and use of the technology. It gives them a very good orientation of the BPO sector and once they complete the programme, it really changes their lives. They can get a job and earn money to take care of themselves and their families,” said Rajeshwari.
Executive Director of Avasant Foundation Chitra Rajeshwari (third left, front row) and Professor Rosalea Hamilton (third right, front row), vice-president, development and community service at the University of Technology, and director of the Fi Wi Jamaica Project, pose for a photo with an Avasant Foundation graduating class in June 2017.