Recent news that Honduras is training large numbers of contact center-ready agents is positive for a country that has attracted outsourcing investment by way of inherent advantages and forward-looking policy initiatives. To date, the success has been real, in terms of the boost that the outsourcing sector has provided to Honduras’ economy. It will be crucial for Honduran stakeholders to maintain this growth by seeking out new outsourcing demand markets and through ensuring the relevant skills needed to perform in a digital contact center environment are abundant.
As reported in Nearshore Americas this week, Honduras is on track to train 4,000 people in contact center skills. This joint initiative between the industry, the government and UNITEC cannot be understated in the broader offshore discussion. In a region where talent availability has been problematic for many vendors, this is a significant volume of new job entrants that will help maintain the sector’s viability. That said, it is emblematic of a forward-looking approach that has helped Honduras become one of the most dynamic offshore markets in the world.
As a destination for contact center delivery, Honduras has been able to take advantage of a number of inherent strengths. Its volume of private English-language schools has been a tremendous source of bilingual agents in scalable numbers. Equally, Honduras’ outsourcing sector has been able to leverage multiple urban centers for contact center deployments, without the fear of rapid oversaturation (a bugbear in many American nearshore countries, in which commercial activity is centered around one city).
Forward looking industry and government decision-making cannot be overlooked either. Since 2009, the efforts by successive governments to make Honduras a competitive commercial environment have borne fruit, as has the work done by Grupo Karims, in the form of the Altia Smart City initiative, in both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. The establishment of Honduras2020, an initiative to drive six-hundred thousand jobs over the next five years in multiple sectors (including BPO), demonstrates both ambition and confidence by the country’s policy-makers.
The commercial atmosphere found in Honduras has led to investment by a number of BPO players, including Alorica, StarTek, KM2, Convergys and Knoah Solutions. To further bear this out, among US respondents to the recent Ryan Strategic Advisory 2017 Omnibus Survey, Honduras was the second most favored offshore location in Central America. These are no small feats for a country that was not on the outsourcing map ten years ago.
The question remains how Honduras’ BPO sector can remain viable. An immediate idea is to find new demand markets for Honduran services beyond the US. An excellent possibility is Spain; not only does Honduras offer a more affordable BPO price point than domestic Spanish delivery, the announcement of a direct flight route between Madrid and San Pedro Sula only re-enforces ties between the two countries. Equally, the industry must ensure that the right skills are being taught to prospective agents. With digital delivery becoming more of a reality than ever, outsourcers must emphasize the need for instruction focusing on higher-value, technology-driven service delivery. This country has proven that stakeholders across industry, government and education can work collectively. The challenge will be for this to continue.