Connecting the world from Cape Town: the Mother City’s BPO sector is flourishing

Globally and locally, business sectors have shed jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one sector has bucked the trend, showing resilience in the face of uncertainty and supporting a key part of the national, and specifically, the local economy.

South Africa’s business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which operates call centres and back-office business process operations centres, has managed to create more opportunities during this time with help from international companies such as Amazon, Webhelp and TransUnion.

Cape Town has made a significant contribution to that success. The BPO sector in Cape Town contributed an estimated R14 million to the city’s economy in 2021 and employs a total of around 69 000 people within the sector, with 5 500 jobs created over the course of 2021.

Reflecting the inherent opportunities to create jobs and drive economic growth in Cape Town, in 2021, local BPO sector members launched the Cape Skills and Employment Accelerator project, in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the National Skills Fund. This project aims to enable access to employment and training within the BPO sector for disadvantaged youth and women.

To date, around 1 400 disadvantaged and previously unemployed trainees have been offered work in call centres after graduating from the programme, with companies including Capita which operates a call centre in Salt River.

The City of Cape Town will allocate R55 million over three years to this project to stimulate employment and skills training programmes in the BPO and textile sectors.

The Craft & Design Institute, (CDI), in partnership with Boland College, is the implementation partner to train young women as machinists to be employed in manufacturing businesses in the clothing, textile, leather and footwear sector. The CDI is also the implementation partner for the Made in Cape Town initiative.

Global support of South Africa’s BPO sector includes the Scottish operator Ascensos, which plans to create around 700 jobs over the next two years. Ascensos employs individuals in the UK, Romania, and Turkey and now has plans for Cape Town, servicing brands including fast-food chain KFC, supermarket group Aldi, and sporting goods retailer JD Sports.

South Africa has been identified as the most favoured international location for worldwide call centres, according to the 2021 Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey.

This sector and the skills programmes within the sector, have given the country an opportunity to alleviate unemployment and slow economic growth.

Cape BPO, which represents the BPO sector in the Cape, has recently expressed support for the Made in Cape Town initiative. As widescale job creators, the sector is perfectly positioned to drive greater economic growth in the city – and to connect the city to the world.

Reference article: [1]