Graduates of the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre's (TTIFC) programme in business process outsourcing (BPO) are the future of the country's thrust towards economic diversification, says TTIFC chairman Richard P Young.
Speaking at the November 21 graduation ceremony, Young told the class of 50 he sees them as the future of TT, "because if you listen to what is happening financially we are pressed from an economy point of view where the country’s energy revenue has dropped by some 80-90 per cent. We really have to diversify and (finance) and accounting business process outsourcing is one of the ways, as it’s about creating new and exciting jobs and earning foreign exchange."
The was the TTIFC's second complement of finance and accounting professionals in BPO training. The students received the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ (ACCA’s) Global Business Services (GBS) and UWI Roytec’s soft skills certifications.
The global outsourcing industry is worth US$1 trillion. The TTIFC noted that, "A key part of attracting investment in finance and accounting, BPO involves advancing the skills of the nation’s talent pool by preparing the workforce for future opportunities that will generate jobs and diversify the economy."
Launched earlier this year, the programme is a partnership between the TTIFC, ACCA and UWI Roytec. Through a bursary provided by the TTIFC, all 50 participants received training and three certificates that included the GBS certification from the ACCA, Soft Skills certification from UWI Roytec and an overall certificate of completion from the TTIFC.
"These certifications will strengthen TT’s Value Proposition in the eyes of potential BPO investors," the TTIFC declared.
One graduating student, Che O’Connor, said the programme was vital as it created linkages between what was being taught and the TTIFC’s drive to build the outsourcing industry.
Another student, Avianna Andrews, said the ACCA's Global Business Services online programme "provided the fundamental knowledge and skills required to perform successfully in a Global Business Services organisation."
"(It) was challenging and tested your perseverance because you had to pass every module before moving on. In the end, however, it gave me a better understanding of the new outsourcing industry the TTIFC is trying to build."
Andrews also praised UWI's Roytec programme, saying the lecturers and her more experienced classmates "used real life scenarios which I can confidently say have helped to prepare me for the corporate world. We are all better equipped to deal with conflict situations, as well as increase our competence in all aspects - from preparing for an interview to presenting in the work place."
Regional director Sales and Marketing at the ACCA Caribbean, Nick Jervis, spoke about association's focus on producing the high calibre of finance professionals needed globally.
"The GBS qualification is a great example of the adaptability and relevance of the ACCA organisation, and it has been introduced and is recognised globally. As you receive your GBS certificates, you are now part of an integral group of individuals with an important task of enabling prosperity and stability. You have a good deal of trust and responsibility placed upon you as you progress in your careers as accounting and finance professionals,” Jervis told the students.
Meanwhile executive director of UWI Roytec, Wendy Augustus, highlighted the importance of the programme's soft skills component.
"Employers are specifically recruiting for social capital skills – that is, employees who have well-developed influencing skills, to assist in building networks and the employer’s brand. I can go on and on about the value of soft skills to employers," Augustus said.
"The bottom line is that your soft skills will be an important part of the individual contribution you make to the success of any organisation to which you are affiliated. The present economic climate will now demand value for money. Employers will hire persons with an edge," Augustus advised.
The TTIFC was established by Government to develop a robust financial services sector that offers high-value, sustainable employment and which can generate diversification within the local economy.