BPOs aim to earn $40 B, hire 1.8 M Filipinos by 2022

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry sees itself growing steadily in the coming years, with higher-value work driving increases in revenue and employment.

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) launched its Roadmap to 2022 on Thursday and by major targets, the industry's outlook is bright.

Revenues are expected to hit $22.9 billion this year, then reach up to $38.9 billion by 2022.

The Philippines should corner 15.5% of the global IT-BPO market by 2022 from 12.6% this year.

Related: Philippine call centers out to attract more foreign clients

More importantly, the industry expects to hire about 1.8 million people by 2022. More than 70% of those jobs will likely be in mid- to high-skilled roles. Today, the BPO workforce is estimated at 1.15 million, with skilled work only comprising half.

BPO officials admit growth in the coming years will be much slower than what the industry achieved in the 2010-2016 roadmap.

But they explained, those were the early days of BPOs in the Philippines so expansion was rapid. Now that the country has a much larger base, growth rates will be slower but steadier.

No cancellations

Despite the strong numbers, BPO leaders still had to field questions about the industry's future.

The roadmap launch comes just days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced during his state visit to China that he wanted to cut economic ties with the United States.

This spooked the BPO industry, whose clientele is 80% made up of American companies. The IBPAP issued a statement last week, requesting an audience with the President so it could "directly discuss our industry's asks from government."

While the meeting is still pending, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima was on hand during the roadmap launch to meet with IBPAP officials.

"I assure you that the BPO industry will be protected not only by me, but by the president, by the government and the country... Nothing bad will happen to you for as long as you do business in the country," Salalima said.

Industry leaders also put on a united front, saying it understood the Duterte administration's policy stance, and investors had no reason to worry.

Accenture Country Managing Director Lito Tayag said the Philippines has a clear advantage in BPO. It has a huge English-speaking workforce, its customer service is renowned, and it already has the ecosystem to help clients find the service provider they need.

Catherine Salceda-Ileto, senior director of Sutherland Global Services, said: "We have delegations from Malaysia, we've got 10 companies coming from Jamaica, we've got a delegation from India, our biggest competitor. We've got one from Australia as well as Switzerland."

"We have had no cancellations despite the President's remarks," she stressed.

The BPO industry is one of the major pillars of the economy. It's currently the second-largest source of dollars in the Philippines – and by next year, it's expected to beat overseas remittances to the top spot.

The Philippines is the world leader in voice services, but it still lags behind India in terms of overall IT-BPO work.