Industry News

[September 10, 2006]

Makati to open call center training facility

(Philippine Daily Inquirer Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) INSIDE A ROOM WITH GLASS PANELS, computers aligned like soldiers in formation quietly hum. Hooked up to every desktop is a top-of-the-line headset.

But this room is no ordinary Internet cafe. Neither is it your average call center.

It is a multimillion peso facilitya one of a kind training center at the University of Makati (UMak)the first call center training facility in the financial capital run by the city government.

Set to open this November, UMaks Language Center is the only facility within a city-subsidized institution that offers a training program for undergraduate students, degree holders and out of school youth raring to join the countrys flourishing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Besides, who better to invest in the training of a potential workforce than a city that has emerged as the top choice of BPO locators around the world?

Mayors idea

The idea came from Mayor Jejomar Binay himself who would like to give Makati residents an edge as employees in the call center industry. Because there are lots of jobs in the industry, he wanted the residentsstudents in particularto take advantage of the business and be employed, said Editha Chan, the universitys executive vice president.

The UMak Language Center was built to increase the chances of employment of UMak students and Makati residents in the vast opportunities that await anyone in the contact center industry, a handout from the university said.

The facility also aims to strengthen the citys edge over highly urbanized centers as a leading provider of highly qualified human resources. It also wants to turn Makati youths into productive citizens and information technology-enabled professionals who are exposed to cutting edge technology.

In partnership with Makati-based call center firms, UMak and the city government pursued Binays vision and built the facility on the ground floor of the universitys Academic Building, converting existing classrooms into a training facility that may well rival call centers in the citys central business district.

Industry standards

The UMak Language Center currently has 31 workstations, all equipped with a system at par with industry standards.

Its state-of-the-art computers, fitted with high quality headsets and software used in actual call centers, are all hooked up to a call management system that can handle and route as many as 100 calls at a given time, the university handout said.

With roughly P6.2 million in City Hall funds already spent for the first phase of construction and the initial batch of equipment, two more rooms are currently being converted to realize Binays plan of having a 100-seat training facility, Chan said.

She added that 70 more workstations will be set up in the next phase of construction, all expected to be completed before the facilitys target opening date.

With the help of our corporate partners, we hope to give a global and competitive facility for call center training, Chan told the Inquirer.

UMaks partner firmsPeople Support, Q-Interaction, Accenture, e-Pacific, the European IT Services Center and Source Asia Business Inc.have been lending a hand to the university in terms of setting up the facility and its system, training teachers and designing programs to offer to students.

Faculty training

Chan said six UMak faculty members have already undergone training to prepare them for teaching students. Another 12 would soon be trained by People Support.

The UMak Language Center will offer three programs and levels of training, each catering to varied target markets, said University vice president for academic affairs Marita Canapi.

As part of the citys public service, the facility will offer free training to underprivileged city residents, particularly out of school youths, through the Makati Training, Placement and Livelihood Consortia.

A city government project, the consortia has been offering residents technical and livelihood skills training to help them land jobs and earn a living.

We tied up with barangays to recommend trainees basically for training in English, for those who do not have the minimum competencies in speaking English, Canapi said.


To qualify, trainees must have completed high school and should be interested in working in a call center. A batch composed of 11 to 15 students would be chosen to undergo training for 50 to 62 hours, most of which would be spent learning how to speak English with an American accent.

Later on, they could try to navigate the computer and learn the systems. But in the consortia course, we give more emphasis to English training, Canapi said.

The university will also offer call center training as part of the curriculum of its existing course in office management and the new two-year associate in contact services program.

They will enroll in English courses with 52 to 60 hours of call center training embedded in the curriculum. We dont have to train them in language because they are already proficient in English. They can later choose to go to work in offices or in a call center, Canapi said.

For degree holders, too

To make the Language Center profitable too, the university will also admit trainees under UMaks School for Continuing Professional Education (SCOPE). Here, degree holders may enroll in modules on call center training.

The candidates for this program are those who have already finished four-year degree courses who wish to have call center training and work in a call center if they want to, Canapi said.

Or we will also cater to those who had been rejected when they applied in a call centers. They can have their training here so they can apply again, she continued.

As clients under this program are expected to already be proficient in English, Canapi said enrollees would undergo 45 hours of training on modules such as American accent, foreign culture familiarization and software tutorial. Calls will also be simulated to give trainees a complete call center experience.

They can choose the modules on sales or telemarketing. And they have to know foreign culture because they will be talking to foreigners who have a different culture than us so we will give them tips on that, said Canapi.

UMak has yet to finalize the rates for call center training under Scope but it is considering charging P3,000 per module. In the future, UMak aims to expand the facilitys training to medical transcription and digital arts and animation, Chan said.

In the end, what we envision is a multipurpose training facility, she added.

Copyright 2006 Philippine Daily Inquirer. Source : Financial Times Information Limited (Trademark)

[ Back To Contact Center Solutions's Homepage ]