METRO Laguna and Metro Cavite are the next top destinations for call center sites.
The Business Processing Association/Philippines (BPA/P), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) keep tab of attractive sites to spread the technology and revenue away from Metro Manila and Cebu, now the top locations.
About 50 locations are on the “Next Wave Cities” list, including those with no call centers yet.
“The list tells investors where to locate and gives the cities advice on how they can attract call centers,” explains Gigi Virata, BPA/P’s executive director for Information and Research. “What is important is the level of business process outsourcing employment they can sustain.”
“Competition tends to heat up in major locations like Metro Manila and Metro Cebu and salaries inflate,” she points out. “As a result, employees jump from one company to another.”
“To keep salary rates manageable, the industry needs to spread out,” she adds.
“Attrition rates could also climb as it has in India; thus, we need to handle the growth of the industry properly.”
Up to 80 percent of the outsourcing industry is now in Metro Manila. But only 25 percent of the graduates come from there.
Provincial call center salaries are lower at P12,000 to P15,000 a month to P15,000 and up in Metro Manila.
The latest Next Wave Cities list puts Metro Laguna (Santa Rosa City, Calamba City, Los Baños, Cabuyao and San Pablo City) as the best outsourcing location in the country.
It validates the view “that areas close to Metro Manila would benefit from the spillovers,” says Oscar Sañez, head of BPA/P, the industry group.
Spreading out sites is essential because over concentration in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu puts “pressures to raise rental rates and salaries,” says BOI Executive Director Celeste Ilagan.
“Having Next Wave Cities and more will help ease the pressure and spread the benefit of employment, higher incomes, and increased business activity across the country,” she says.
The Next Wave Cities project gathers information from sources as diverse as local chambers of commerce, the Commission on Higher Education, the National Statistics Office, the National Statistical Coordination Board, the weather bureau and the police.
Data include vulnerability to natural disturbances; crime rates; the presence of export zone sites and Information and Technology councils; cost of business; quality of roads; access to international and domestic flights; hotels; presence of fiber optic networks (with at least two telephone companies in the location to prevent downtime); rates and reliability of power supply; and cost of labor and office space.
Second highest on the scoreboard is Metro Cavite composed of Dasmariñas, Bacoor, Imus and Cavite City.
Ranked from 3 to 10 are Iloilo City, Davao City, Bacolod City, Angeles-Clark-Mabalacat, Baliuag-Marilao-Meycauayan, Cagayan de Oro, Malolos-Ca-lumpit and Lipa City.
“Metro Laguna taken together ranked the highest for availability of graduates and workers out of more than 30 locations assessed,” says CICT Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua 3rd. “The talent criteria carries the largest weight, a full 50 percent in the overall ranking, which explains Metro Laguna’s position at the top.”
Laguna is host to several industrial parks and automotive assembly plants. It is also home to quality schools like the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Ateneo de San Pablo, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Laguna State Polytechnic, Mapua Institute of Technology in Cabuyao and the Polytechnic University in Santa Rosa, as well as research and development organizations like the International Rice Research Institute.
Cavite has 13 economic zones as well as other industrial estates hosting international and local companies that include some IT and business process outsourcing companies.
After Metro Laguna and Metro Cavite, cities in Mindanao will be the choice destinations for BPOs.
Davao (population: 1.6 million) and nearby Cagayan de Oro, according to the BPA/P and the USAID’s Growth of Equity in Mindanao are “well on the way to becoming BPO hubs.”