[PHOTO AT LEFT - G.M.A. INAUGURATES NEW CALL CENTER President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo talks via video conference with officials of Sutherland Global Services in New York City during the inauguration of Sutherland Global Services Call Center in Makati City yesterday. With the President are (from left) Secretary of Trade and Industry Peter Favila, Sutherland Global Services Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Dilip Vellodi, and Chief Technology Officer Prem Phutur. (Ramon I. Samson)]

MANILA, March 27, 2006 (BULLETIN) By GENALYN D. KABILING - President Arroyo yesterday ordered the distribution of 100,000 government scholarships to Filipinos planning to enter finishing schools for call center agents to sustain the formation of world-class Filipino human resource in the multi- million-dollar industry.

The President asked Director General Augusto Syjuco Jr. of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to allocate a portion of the agency’s R500-million budget for the call center scholarship program.

"I have asked the chairman of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority that he should develop a scholarship program for the call center Philippines school to be able to benefit 100,000 Filipinos so that there will be a continuing pool of world-class Filipino personnel that you have found in our country," she said during the inauguration of a new call center facility of Sutherland Global Services at the Export-Import Plaza in Makati City.

The President said she expects call centers seats and business process outsourcing (BPO) employees to double every year from the current number of 125,000. She noted there were only less than 2,000 BPO employees five years ago.

"Now we have 125,000 this year and if we are doubling that means we are going to be needing at least another one hundred thousand more," she said.

The President also thanked Sutherland Global Services, a New York-based outsourcing firm, for tapping Filipino talents in its new call center facility in the country.

"I would like to congratulate Sutherland and their employees on their success here in the Philippines. Sutherland’s expansion in Manila serves as a testament to the highly committed and professional workforce this country has to offer," she said.

Dilip Vellodi, chairman and chief executive officer of Sutherland, said the company plans to create 1,500 more jobs in the next six months. The firm currently has 750 workers, an increase from 500 when it opened last year.

"The Philippines continues to show great promise as a delivery location, offering advantages of high value at a competitive cost, along with a robust talent pool that will allow us to consistently meet the needs of our global clients," Vellodi said.

Mrs. Arroyo also expressed gratitude to the Sutherland company for its plan to set up a finishing school for call center agents in the country. "I’m happy to hear about your plans on the Sutherland University which is one of what I would like to have," she added.

The President earlier said she looks forward to the increase in call center employment to around two million by 2010. She attributed the mushrooming of call centers and BPOs in the country to the Filipino’s exemplary language and technical skills and work ethics.

Sutherland manages a strong global client base, over 70 percent of which are listed among the Fortune 500 in the banking and financial services, information technology and communications, retail and healthcare industries.

The company’s service portfolio includes process consulting, back office processing, technology support, customer care, and account management that addresses the entire "customer management life cycle."

The IT business, particularly call centers, has been the major contributor to the President’s job creation program which targets to create 10 million jobs by 2010.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, and Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro accompanied the President at the inauguration.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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