Business process outsourcing (BPO) organisation CCI South Africa plans an additional 2 500 jobs for its operations in the 2023 financial year, says CEO Peter Andrew.
This, as more unemployed local graduates turn to the BPO sector − sometimes referred to as the global business services (GBS) sector − for employment opportunities.
South Africa’s joblessness has escalated at alarming rates in recent years, and youth remain vulnerable in the labour market. The official unemployment rate was 32.9%, as at the first quarter of 2023, according to Statistics South Africa, with unemployed youth (15-34 years) at 46.5%.
The BPO industry, which is targeting 500 000 new jobs by 2030, has been pinned as the green shoot that can help overcome the country’s unemployment challenge.
“I think the BPO industry is one that will carry South Africa and Africa forward,” said Andrew yesterday, during a media tour of the CCI South Africa and CareerBox operations in Durban.
“2022 was a record year for CCI South Africa and things are certainly not slowing down in 2023,” he said, noting the new jobs have mainly been created in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“Twelve new client campaigns have launched across a range of industries, including airlines, gaming, car rental, business insurance and financial services. These campaigns have helped us create 2 458 new jobs, with an additional 253 management and support roles, so far this year.
“By the end of 2023, we are hoping to double that, creating a total of 5 000 additional jobs in one company alone.
“The other beauty of this industry is that you rise with the business. You start as an agent and with experience, you become a team leader, and then an operations manager. We’ve got programmes that we’ve built in order to achieve that – there’s real career projection.”
According to Andrew, the global BPO market was valued at $261.9 billion in 2022. South Africa accounted for 1% of global revenues during the same period, with estimates indicating this will grow to 4% by 2030.
He added that SA’s BPO sector witnessed a 25% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2021, with an expected 9.4% CAGR from 2023 to 2030.
On the employment front, the BPO sector was said to have created more than 50 000 cumulative new jobs from January 2018, to the second quarter of 2021.
CCI South Africa accounts for 8 500 of the BPO sector staff, Andrew noted, saying it is looking to expand that figure.
“Our goal is to create 20 000 jobs within the sector. We’ve got sites in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. We also have sites in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda, so it’s really a scalable proposition that the BPO industry offers.”
While ICT has long been regarded a male-dominated industry, youth and women lead when it comes to the composition of SA’s BPO sector.
BPO industry body Business Process Enabling South Africa previously revealed the country’s youth accounted for 89% of the new jobs in the sector from January to June 2022.
Andrew said CCI South Africa is a 67% female organisation, with a 52% female leadership team. In addition, 76% of the employees are from low-income households.
“When we started, we were pretty much 90% Indian male, and that was because it was an outbound call centre. The logic at the time was that India was good at it, so Indian males in South Africa should be good at it,” he explained.
“This has now changed to a customer service environment and African females are the predominant staff members. There is no doubt there is better performance as a result of that.”
CCI South Africa works with CareerBox on skills development for the BPO sector.
Established in 2013, CareerBox offers career development training and work readiness programmes to unemployed young adults who wish to enter the GBS and contact centre industry.
Additionally, youth are provided with technical and soft skills for the workplace, including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, according to the company.
Successful youth that go through CareerBox training are absorbed by CCI South Africa. The partnership, the companies say, has resulted in 98.5% of CCI staff being candidates who were trained and placed through CareerBox.
“Demand-led training and fast-tracked employment opportunities are an important step towards achieving sustainable economic growth. By partnering with CareerBox, it has developed a market-driven education and training model, designed to empower youth and uplift communities through the multiplier of employment and compensation.
“We believe the youth of South Africa are uniquely equipped to deliver this through their inherent capacity for empathy and creating human connection,” added Andrew.