This refers to ‘Banking jobs threatened?’ (GDN, March 18).
It is a matter of concern for all of us, but we need to trace the trend a little deeper and to know whether it is a part of regional development or global happening, and to understand it in the context of a bigger picture.
The Bahrain government’s local regulators and Economic Development Board (EDB) are making all out efforts to develop Bahrain as friendly as possible to attract financial institutions to this regional financial hub. Then why are such things happening and at what level? Are we victims of a global trend?
Profound shifts are happening across all industries marked by emergence of new business models. A staggering confluence of technological breakthroughs are re-shaping every sphere of working and living.
Finance is no exception. This is the age of disruption. Newer technology is increasing automation and outsourcing work for competitive advantage. As a result, jobless growth and reduction and shifting of jobs are happening.
We need to think and act pro-actively to seize the opportunity. Why can’t we think of making Bahrain an important hub of outsourcing? We can emerge as a victor rather than becoming a victim of the trend. Let us embrace business process outsourcing (BPO) and leverage the opportunities.
Bahrain has all the ingredients to become a big outsourcing hub in this region. Four main factors which can make a nation a favourite outsourcing destination are excellent information technology infrastructure, skilled workforce, grasp of the English language and cost-effectiveness.
On all counts, Bahrain scores well. Bahrain has got a world-class information and communication technology platform. The International Telecommunication Union has recently conferred the “Information and Communication Technology in Sustainable Development” award on our Prime Minister at the UN headquarters in New York.
Bahrain can boast having the most skilled workforce in the Mena region with a good grasp over English. Bahrain has already got cost competitiveness in the GCC. As per the latest report of professional service company KPMG, Bahrain has one of the lowest costs of operating a financial services business in the GCC region. It is as low as 40 per cent.
Bahrain can project itself as a preferred destination for call centres and BPO related services in the Mena region.
Of course, government agencies and the EDB has to be more pro-active to realise these opportunities. There has been a beginning on this front and one bank has started a call centre in Bahrain reportedly with 100 seats. EDB is already working to encourage it. In the backdrop of lower oil prices and a need for diversifying our economy, attracting off-shore outsourcing is a right choice. This can create more jobs, better opportunities and bigger investments in our beautiful Bahrain. Let us work on it and emerge as a victor rather than a victim.
Ashok Karia – Manama