The job of choice for many young people in the Philippines is working at a call center. More than 1 million Filipinos now work at call centers and in related outsourcing businesses, making their country the call-center capital of the world.
MANILA, Philippines — Ever since Joahnna Horca lost her father, a doctor, in a South China Sea typhoon, her large family has struggled to make ends meet.
So after Horca earned a college degree in social work, an older sister nudged her to help support the family by taking a better-paying job — at a call center.
That was eight years ago, when the outsourcing industry was just taking off in the Philippines. Today, it’s the job of choice for many young people here. More than 1 million Filipinos now work at call centers and in related outsourcing businesses, mostly serving U.S. companies.
The combination of cheap labor and specialized skills has made the Filipino workforce invaluable to a growing list of U.S. companies, which use them to field customer complaints, generate sales leads, code data, format documents and read medical scans and legal briefs.
Horca, 30, eventually got her social-worker license, but she could never tear herself away from the call-center job for a U.S. banking company. It’s draining work. She handles as many as 100 calls a day from angry Americans, and often works the graveyard shift.
But she makes about $700 a month, more than many general physicians earn in the Philippines, let alone social workers.
The industry in the Philippines has grown so fast that it has overtaken India as the call-center capital of the world. India still rules the information technology (IT) outsourcing realm, but an army of Filipino college graduates like Horca now dominates most every other kind of task known as business process outsourcing, or BPO.