Nearshore Americas
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Sutherland Exec: Jamaica BPO Must Shift Talent Focus to Survive Age of AI

Jamaica’s country head at Sutherland, Odetta Rockhead-Kerr, has recommended that the country invest more in its human capital in order to safeguard or sustain jobs in the Jamaica BPO sector as technology progresses.

“The first strategy is to move up the value chain. Processes that are highly variable require decision making and judgment that cannot easily be replaced by robotics or artificial intelligence,” she said, also pointing out that the biggest industry threat was robotics process automation (RPA).

Rockhead-Kerr made the suggestions during her “Future Strategies for Expanding the Outsourcing Sector” presentation at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference, which was held July 23-26 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

Education First

Jamaica bpo
Rockhead-Kerr – “The only way we are going to combat these technologies, which are the biggest risks to many industries, is to continue to teach our population as the industry grows.”

During her speech, Rockhead-Kerr advised that in order to move up the value chain the human capital has to be better developed with the help of education, also divulging that Sutherland was partnering with local training agency the HEART Trust/NTA on several initiatives to revamp recruitment and training.

“If this is the industry that is going to create the type of growth we are talking about, we need to get the educational system behind us,” she said. “The only way we are going to combat these technologies, which are the biggest risks to many industries, is to continue to teach our population as the industry grows.”

She further added that Sutherland recently launched an associate degree program with the Portmore Community College and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the West Indies to develop degrees in Jamaica BPO.

“I want to keep leadership Jamaican, which can satisfy the higher level that our clients are used to. Just like the Microsofts, the Amazons, and the Googles of the world, we need to ensure that we prepare our labor force to offer this higher level of service, not just at the entry level, but also at the management level,” she said.

Additional Strategies

Rockhead-Kerr said that Sutherland has been preparing to counter the threats of technology by establishing labs in London and San Francisco to get ahead of robotics and AI.

Meanwhile, she also proposed that more jobs could be created by the industry if Jamaica looked at developing fulfillment centers.

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Amazon has fulfillment centers all over the US, so we are perfectly located to be able to fulfill the Caribbean, which would create many jobs here if we had the capabilities to provide shipments for Amazon to nearby territories,” she said.

The government has identified the Jamaica BPO sector as the industry that will create thousands of jobs for the country’s economy.

Just recently, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that approximately 14,000 new business process outsourcing jobs are expected to be created by the first quarter of 2018. This, Holness noted, is in addition to 4,000 that were generated between April 2016 and March this year.

Dionne Rose

A communication specialist and award winning journalist of 23 years. Dionne Rose has been published in a variety of Jamaican newspapers such as the Jamaica Gleaner, the Jamaica Herald, and The Courier, a magazine for Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and European Union relations. She has experience covering business, parliament, health, labor, and environment beats. She holds a MA in Communications Studies and a Bachelors Degree in History from the University of the West Indies. She also has a Diploma in Education from the Mico Teachers College.