Jamaica Gleaner / Not-For-Profit organisation Avasant Foundation will be leading skills training programmes in Montego Bay and Kingston this year to prepare more than 200 young Jamaicans for employment opportunities in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. The 2018 Avasant Digital Youth Employment Initiative will have four consecutive cohorts participating in a five-weeks training programme that will focus onteaching skills in ICT/BPO and customer service. The 2018 programme will end in May.

The award-winning initiative, which is hosted in partnership with the University of Technology, through the USAID-funded Fi Wi Jamaica Project and JAMPRO, is now in its third year of execution in Jamaica. Chitra Rajeshwari, Avasant Foundation’s executive director, said that the foundation selected Jamaica for the programme because of the rapid growth of the BPO industry and the need for employment opportunities in the country. She said, “The BPO industry is rapidly growing in Jamaica and there is the untapped human capital – the unemployed youths.”

Rajeshwari explained that while the general unemployment rate in Jamaica is trending downward, the rate of unemployment among young people remains high at 25.4 per cent, according to recent reports from STATIN. The initiative has sought to counter this unemployment rate, and the Avasant Foundation has reported that over 90 per cent of its graduates find employment after the programme. Rajeshwari said, “Hiring our graduates is a value added to these companies and they feel they are participating in helping with youth unemployment. It is a win-win!”

To ensure that the programme is relevant to today’s BPO industry, Rajeshwari said that while the programme does not change its model, it continuously updates training materials so that graduates stay up to date to the needs of the industry. In addition to the technical skills, Rajeshwari said that the programme had strong emphasis on self-empowerment and the necessity for flexibility while job seeking. She said, “The training we provide, even though specific to the BPO industry, the skills learnt can be transferred to any industry, as customer service is core to any business.”

 

Outsourcing, a place for young people to grow  

As the outsourcing sector expands in the region, Avasant Foundation has continued to grow its programmes in countries like Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago. Avasant and its foundation says they have collectively created more than 12,000 new jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean through their services to companies and other economic development initiatives, in a bid to reduce global unemployment.

Chitra Rajeshwari, Avasant Foundation’s executive director said BPO is an ideal area for young people to get an introduction to the business world. She explained, “The statistics shows the global outsourcing market amounted to US$88.9 billion in 2017. It is one of the largest job creators and the opportunity to grow and excel within the industry is unlimited, within various disciplines, industrial sectors and locations.”

Avasant Foundation is looking to facilitate more cohorts in partnership with JAMPRO, as the outsourcing sector increases its prominence in Jamaica. Rajeshwari explained, “We plan to continue the current model of Level-1 training which is entry level, and from this year on will be adding Level-2 training which is team leader roles. As the BPO industry grows and expands to other areas of the outsourcing sector in Jamaica, we will incorporate those changes in our trainings. We are excited to be partnering with HEART and hoping to find other funding partners in Jamaica who will join us in helping the youths of Jamaica get out of unemployment and into the workforce.”

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