Acela Nikki C. Quibranter, CEO, YWA Human Resources Corp. Philippines
The CEO of one of the Philippines’ leading manpower export firms, YWA Human Resources Corp., lifts the lid on why the Philippines has become one of the most popular destinations for business process outsourcing, and describes the importance of worker remittances to the national economy. She further explains what makes Filipino manpower so attractive to multinational conglomerates and how her company has carved out a niche in supplying the petrochemical market with skilled and reliable personnel.
What has been the winning formula for the Philippines to become the most popular location for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry?
The market for Filipino BPOs is definitely growing. We have done well at branding the BPO industry. The government has given much support to the industry, working with independent organizations focused on overseeing the movement and development of the BPO industry of the country. At the outset, the BPO industry of the Philippines focused on voice-based, call center services. It has today migrated to higher value and knowledge-based services that cater to multinational clients. Call center agents whose jobs were restricted to taking calls or delivering voice-based services are now trained to be capable of BPO experts. This has changed the BPO industry of the Philippines from giving stopgap options to providing fully-fledged career choices for the nation’s professionals.
What are your perspectives on the evolution of labor migration, and how it has affected the Philippines?
Labor migration is not a new phenomenon among Filipinos. During the first half of the last century, a large number of Filipino workers were present in US, and later the Middle East. Today, with the inception of the overseas employment program under the 1974 Labor Code of the Philippines, Filipino labor migration serves as a temporary measure to ease the tight domestic labor market, stabilize the country’s balance-of-payments position, and serves as an alternative employment strategy for Filipinos. Nevertheless, overseas employment provides work to job-seeking Filipinos, as well as is a major generator of foreign exchange.
Overseas Filipino Workers remittances have been instrumental in helping the Philippine economy offset foreign exchange outflows, especially as a saving grace during periods of negative GDP growth, thus, maintaining a positive GNP (gross national product).
What is unique in Filipino employees that makes them so attractive to companies looking for low-cost labor?
Oil and gas has been a key sector for the Philippines since the 1970s in terms of outsourced labor, and compared to other countries in the world that have large guest worker populations, such Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and India, the Philippines has a lot of experience in this sector, and Filipinos are well adjusted to the life of an overseas contract worker. On top of that, Filipino workers are kind, loving, self-sacrificing and loyal people, especially to their superiors. Loyalty is definitely our country’s competitive edge. Hence, the big demand for Filipinos to work in developed countries.
You have been managing the YWA since you founded the company back in 1994. Which sectors have primarily driven the company’s growth in this time? How would you describe the strategy of the company today?
YWA’s core competence is in the Oil and Gas sector. Ninety percent of our deployed workers are assigned to projects in this industry.
In terms of strategy, on average we currently deploy in between 4,500 to 5,000 workers annually. How? With a strong commitment to people empowerment, sharpened recruitment strategies, developed global marketing capabilities, securing recruitment leadership and fostering transparent governance.
There are a number of outsourcing companies that have made their way successfully in the Philippines, What is YWA’s competitive edge?
We are known for our expertise in efficiency and for our previous and abundant experience. Since 1994, we have dealt with projects in 56 different countries, on all five continents. We have deployed over 45,000 Filipinos, both skilled and professional, to various projects worldwide, mainly for the oil and gas industry, with a significant percentage catering to the petrochemical, civil and construction, shipbuilding and dry dock, medical and hospitality industries.
YWA is comprised of 72 dedicated professionals that work diligently and relentlessly to support the needs and demands of our industry-leading employers. Our main office is located in Manila and we have four global offices that are strategically located in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US. In addition, we have our own trade test and training Centre, equipped with training modules and TESDA accredited trainers, and the equipment to cater to technical skills testing of candidates.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities in five years from today?
Today we have secured a leading position in the South Korean market, which we reached after working with the giant Samsung. In the future, we would like to do the same with the Japanese market. We have already closed one deal with a large Japanese company; now it is time to deliver more than ever, as our sector will continue its upward trajectory, with annual revenues reaching $25 billion by 2016, while providing direct employment to 1.3 million Filipinos, and supporting 3.2 million indirect jobs.
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