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Aug 18, 2015

BPOs and Employment in Belize

Employment in Belize has been a hot-button issue for the public and private sector. Approximately forty percent of the country is poor and the unemployment rate is just as dismal. The unemployment figures in 2014 have been slightly lower when compared to 2013, but the decrease in joblessness in the city was eclipsed by an increase in unemployment in the districts. Tonight, Duane Moody looks at one of the industries that have had an impact on the level of joblessness in the city – business process outsourcing. 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

In Belize, the level of joblessness seems unabated. In April of 2014, there were approximately sixteen thousand, seven hundred men and women who were jobless. The unemployment rate among women is nineteen point four percent, while five point nine percent of men are without work. But the numbers would be considerably higher were it not for the thousands of additional jobs created by various businesses in the private sector. One thriving industry in the region that has become prevalent locally is business process outsourcing, or BPOs.  Over the past few years, several call centers have popped up across the country.

 

Mike Singh

Mike Singh, C.E.O., Ministry of Trade and Investment [File: October 22nd, 2014]

“We’re seeing huge leaps and bounds; we’re probably up to about twenty-six, twenty-seven hundred employees in that sector, up from about nine hundred two years ago.  We have something like eighteen companies active in that sector when we only had three, two or three years ago.”

 

The inception of this rapidly increasing industry and its integration into Belize’s socioeconomic framework started back in 2003.  By 2005, the first center, Ready Call, opened its doors, hiring about thirty persons.

 

Nubia Ramirez

Nubia Ramirez, C.E.O., Ready Call Center

“My first impression was that I don’t know if I will be able to make it over here; even though the conditions were really good meaning the distance to the United States, the time zone which is only two or one hour difference compared to Miami’s time, the English itself; the unemployment rate because usually when you are trying to set up an operation like this you would like to get a good amount of workforce available for the business.”

 

Considering itself as one of the largest employers in the country, the center that is headquartered near the Boom Cutoff, currently employs over seven hundred customer care representatives and operating staff from across the country with another one hundred and fifty in training.

 

Nubia Ramirez

“We have all kinds of positions: our customer service representatives; we have people who became a part of the staff, but everybody who works at Ready Call started in the same position as customer service care representatives. The call center industry is a very difficult industry. Ready Call has a different standard compared to any call center here in Belize. As a matter of fact, the fact that we are the pioneers in this business created a lot of issues for us in the beginning because we came with a new type of business that no one was familiarized with. We didn’t get people with previous experience because we created all of this business here. There were no supervisors or QA Analysts or any other person with previous experience in call center. So we started all of this business.”

 

Melissa Espat

Melissa Espat, Recruitment Manager, Ready Call Center

“We are raising the bar of our employees. Ready Call is no longer only about answering calls, but we are moving up; we are stepping up a notch and so good things are coming and the recruitment center is also working on that as well.”

 

Contrary to what is perceived, the minimum required standard of any call center is that of a high school diploma. For those employed, it provides opportunities for personal growth and professional development.

 

Kendra Clare

Kendra Clare, Employee, Ready Call Center

“You get to grow; it is continuous training; it is not like you get to stay at one area for a long time. Within one year, you can move up the notch. I always tell people that working here is a very good experience. Working here two years, I was able to build a house…and that is only in two years.”

 

Carla Mai, Recruiter, Ready Call Center

“I’ve been here for nine years now and over this nine years, I’ve learned a lot about customer service, met a lot of great people and it has helped me out a lot personally with helping my kids go to school and so forth.”

 

Carla Mai

Melissa Espat

“Employment is available, our doors are open….we have an open door policy. But it is up to the applicant to decide whether or not they are disciplined or whether they fit the criteria to work with us. It is not an easy job.”

 

The Youth Apprenticeship Program and the Belize Training and Employment Center (BTEC) are government initiatives that assist Belizeans with resume building, interview preparation, personal development skills – all tools to ease the process of getting jobs at call centers.

 

Christine Smith

Christine Smith, Director, BTEC [File: October 22nd, 2014]

“It provides demand-based training.  We’re looking at specific industries and [we’re] looking at what are those skill sets needed for those industries and ensuring that the individuals who come to BTEC, at the end of the training, are in possession of those skill sets.  So BTEC’s aim is to increase the employability skills of young people, as well as persons who are seeking employment.”

 

More job opportunities are being made available says Chief Executive Officer of Ready Call, Nubia Ramirez with the introduction of new services in the next two months.

 

Nubia Ramrez

“We have been dealing basically with cellular services so everybody knows that that is our training and dealing over here, with cellular services in the United States. But now we are getting into different clients and different types of campaigns and the main one is about the services of CHAT, which is completely new here in Belize. CHAT services are going to create maybe about another two to three employment positions in the short-term.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

According to C.E.O. Ramirez, Ready Call in the months to come will soon be opening call centers in Cayo and Orange Walk. 

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3 Responses for “BPOs and Employment in Belize”

  1. Ali BaBarrow & his 40 say, Je juis Castro says:

    Toledo kicked out UDP, now they have the lowest unemployment in Belize.

    Easy to draw the cause and effect of government corruption.

    Ironic considering UDP has been trying to screw Toledo at every opportunity.

  2. Rod says:

    40 percent unemployment imagine that and unu duncy belizeans keep voting for this incompetent impotent pm and gov well I say unu deserve whatever unu get fu be so duncy wake up fools wake up and life will get even worse if unu vote fu udp again .

  3. Al says:

    U Duncy Rod. Its 25% unemployment and 40 % considered poor. Wake up fool. Not that i believe that 40% anyway. Oh I get it; 40% poor but an additional 40% dirt po. That wud be more like it. After all, politicians and their rich cronies would make up the next 20% of the population. There is no middle class.

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