Prime Minister Andrew Holness broke ground at the Portmore Informatics site yesterday (February 16) to start the construction of a new Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) company in the Portmore Area. When completed, the 150,000 sq. ft space is expected to provide 3000 jobs.
According to a release from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) the US$23 million project, being implemented by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), is expected to be completed in one year.
Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony at the Park in Portmore, St. Catherine, Mr. Holness said the commencement of this project represents the Government’s commitment to cutting through dense bureaucracy for the fast-tracking of critical programmes.
“My job is to reach into that deep pipeline of projects and rip them out…to cut through the dense bureaucracy that sometimes becomes self-serving and get to this point,” he added.
The Prime Minister further said the Government remains committed to the expansion of the BPO sector as one of the faster ways to create employment.
“The aspiration and the ambition to get Jamaicans employed is a serious one and the Government must move with alacrity, determination and instrumentality to provide employment for our people,” he said.
“Employment is the greatest tool in fighting crime and the greatest tool in bringing prosperity to our people. Employment is independence in our hands and that is what I am here to do,” Mr. Holness added.
The development of the Portmore Informatics Park forms part of a wider project being advanced by the PAJ in support of the Government’s vision to expand the outsourcing sector to realise a goal of 200,000 jobs within four years. A total of $4 billion is being spent on the development in Portmore as well as on work now underway in Montego Bay, St. James.
Expected BPO Services Sector Growth
Chairman of the PAJ, Ambassador Nigel Clarke, said the BPO sector is being targeted as one of its strategic growth areas in order to fulfil the agency’s mandate of facilitating development that support the growth agenda of Jamaica.
He said with the BPO services sector expected to grow by over 50 per cent, the PAJ is responding to those prospects and keeping pace with rising demand.
“Today’s ceremony represents another step towards the achievement of market leadership within the sector and it provides support to the national growth agenda,” he noted.
The PAJ has pioneered work in BPO sector development since 1987, through the agency’s Montego Bay Free Zone and the Kingston Free Zone. The agency manages accounts for some 10,200 employees within the outsourcing sector in Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, urged all Government agencies to collaborate in leading the charge to expand the BPO sector, which he said provides a diverse set of professional options.
He said the Government is committed to ensuring that Portmore and other similar communities can be involved in the growth of the sector and gain meaningful employment.
Portmore Informatics Park…. finest BPO Destination? – Dr Chang
“Portmore is an ideal area…with a huge population of educated, capable Jamaicans looking for jobs and if we provide the opportunity and the training, they can in fact, make Portmore Informatics Park one of the finest destinations for Business Process Outsourcing,” Dr. Chang said.
The new BPO company will join two other BPOs already operating within the growing Portmore commercial district– IBEX Global, which now occupies 10,000 square feet of space in Portmore Pines Plaza, owned by Mount Royal Development Ltd, and ACS XEROX, located in Naggo Head.
IBEX Global Jamaica has two operations- Kingston and Portmore– from which it hires sales, customer service and technical support talent for its call centre operations.
Conduent -Xerox Split Leads to take-over of Business Process Services from XEROX; Staff Dislocated in Portmore
Xerox, the world’s largest printing and software solutions company with headquarters in Washington, USA hires about 6,500 Jamaicans and has been the private sector largest employer since establishing in the year 2000.
But recently, the company was in the news after RJR News announced that it had cut staff cuts at the Portmore branch. Portmore Citizens News has since learnt that the action was part of a separation between Xerox and Conduent Incorporated.
Conduent disclosed in a news release dated January 3, 2017 published on its website that the US -based Fortune 500 company had completed a separation agreement with XEROX at the end of 2016 and launched as an independent publicly-traded business processes services leader.
The move was apparently driven by Conduent as part of a major cost transformation programme which it’s CEO announced will “streamline the business, improve margins, and enable investment into growth opportunities.”
“Under the terms of the separation agreements, on the distribution date of Dec. 31, 2016, Xerox shareholders received one share of Conduent common stock for every five shares of Xerox common stock they held as of the close of business on Dec. 15, 2016, the record date for the distribution,” the Conduent release stated.
It was not clear whether staff who lost their jobs at the Portmore location would be relocated or reemployed, although when asked, a XEROX employee told this blogger that the disclocated staff would be reemployed. PCN was unable to confirm this.
Over 4,000 new jobs have been added to the BPO sector within the last three years to increase employment for about 22,000. Revenues from the industry grew from approximately US$230 million in 2012 to US$400 million in 2015.
Portmore Informatics Park is located at 7 East Trade Way and is located closest to the Maxie Department Store.