ImageIt is evident that in recent years, Belize has seen the advent of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry with the boom of contact centers providing services to various offshore companies. The first center opened its doors in 2005 and today, there are 14 active BPO’s in Belize offering both outbound sales and inbound customer service. Though the interest in Belize’s BPO industry continues to be strong, there is a shifting focus where multinational companies seek to outsource their I.T. services in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to tap into lower costing near shore markets due to rising costs in Asia, while also leveraging a new talent pool of ICT innovation.

The worldwide I.T. outsourcing (ITO) market is forecast to reach $288 billion in 2013, a 2.8% increase in U.S. dollars from 2012 according to Gartner, Inc. Statistics also show that ITO markets in emerging Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Greater China will all grow more than 13% in 2014 with the expansion of multinational buyers into these regions. So where does this leave Belize amidst this growth in the global ITO industry?

According to a recent study, the University of Belize has churned up to 105 graduates in I.T. with 56 earning a Bachelor’s degree and 49 earning an Associate’s between 2010 and 2013. During this same period, the Junior Colleges in Belize that offer an I.T. Associate degree program have produced 185 graduates in I.T. with Galen University recently introducing its program being scheduled to graduate 18 in 2014. This means that in four (4) years, we have produced close to 308 programmers in Belize’s I.T. talent pool; however, there are two major problems that are at hand.

First, though many students are graduating with degrees in I.T., only a few work in the field after they graduate due to a lack of professional I.T. careers or job opportunities in Belize. The few that are available, fill up by the brightest, leaving the others to either become freelance entrepreneurs, or to work in a field completely unrelated to I.T. Secondly, because of this, the interest of I.T. and students majoring in it have fallen due to fears of not being able to obtain work in the market after graduation. The study shows that total tertiary I.T. graduates in 2011 fell from 85 to 75 in 2012. So how can we leverage this available talent pool in Belize.

The answer is simple: by tapping into the global ITO market. With the right curriculum adjustments being made by a current curriculum review of the ICT sector, our student graduates will be better poised to meet the demands of the growing I.T. outsourcing services. These include buzz words in the industry such as: cloud computing, mobile app development, search engine optimization, project management and big data.

Data center hosting, web / e-commerce systems, application development, help desk and desktop support are the I.T. functions with the greatest potential for successfully reducing costs through outsourcing and these are the niche areas that Belizean programmers can focus on to leverage access into this market.

The treasure chest has been found and it awaits its opening. The Government of Belize through the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), is looking to attract investments into the ITO sector to ensure that programmers in Belize are able to have successful career paths by offering offshore I.T. services globally. For further information on these developments, contact Mr. Hero Balani, Export Promotion & BPO Development Officer at BELTRAIDE. Email: hero@belizeinvest.org.bz

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