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Call centres no more calling

While the world talks about India's sunrise industry, BPO firms are tackling a new crisis, writes Sakshi Arora.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 23:12 IST

India's outsourcing boom never seems to be out of news.

At a time when the world is talking about the country's sunrise industry, the companies are quietly gearing up to tackle a major crisis.

The human resource employees of BPO companies are having a nightmarish experience while trying to find the right people for the growing demand.

Says an HR Executive of Convergys, "There is a major shortfall in the number of employable people. Of all the people we interview, only a handful are actually worth taking on."

The NASSCOM-McKinsey report reiterates this. According to the figures, by 2010, a potential shortfall of nearly half a million qualified employees will be facing the fast-growing industry.

Growth of BPO in India

• India's outsourcing industry has grown roughly three-fold - from $4 billion in 2000 to $12.8 billion in 2004.

• Growth expected at an annual rate of 25% by 2010.

• Export revenues of about $60 billion to be generated by 2010.

An industry that employs about 3,50,000 people and adds 1,50,000 people every year is expected to employ over 1.1 million Indians by the year 2008.

New BPO blues

So, what is really amiss? What is making it so difficult for these firms to find the right people?

"Most people have good spoken English but when it comes to writing, the grammar is really poor. The candidates are not paying attention to their writing skills and that's what we are looking for now," says an exasperated HR executive.

Ashish Gupta, COO, Evalueserve, validates her point further. "There definitely is a problem with the language skills of people but that can be worked on," he says.

Training -- the key word

For Ashish, the problem is not of quantity but of quality.

He says, "The key word for any organisation is training. That's the fundamental requirement. It's not about finding the right people but about making the best of what you have."

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"The companies have to spend enough time and effort on training its workforce, so that India does not lose its advantage to other countries," he adds.

With an average attrition rate of 35 per cent and recruitment glitches, the right process of training could well be the boon.

"The skills and quality of the workforce need to be improved, since only 25 per cent of technical graduates and 10-15 per cent of general college graduates are suitable for employment in the offshore IT and BPO industries respectively," affirms Jayant Sinha, Partner, McKinsey & Company.

High attrition rate

While some agree that the problem is of recruiting new people, others say that the urgency to recruit new people has come because a large chunk of old, faithful employees are suddenly leaving.

First Published: Jan 27, 2006 13:11 IST