The Western Cape has shown impressive growth over the past year, with 3 400 business process outsourcing (BPO) and contact centre jobs created.

According to the recently-launched 2014 BPeSA Key Indicator Report, the BPO industry employs more than 40 000 people, of which approximately 11 500 are as a result of foreign direct investment. Foreign investment continues to drive growth across the industry and has accounted for the bulk of jobs created over the past two years.

“This is an exciting time for the industry, with global brands such as Amazon, American Airlines, Asda, BP, EE(T-Mobile & Orange), Lufthansa, 02,Shell and Swiss International all using the Western Cape as a global base to service their customers,” says BPeSA CEO, Gareth Pritchard.

The majority of foreign investment into the industry continues to be driven by the UK, with 63,3% of the offshore market, a 1,9% increase from 2013, followed by the US and Australia at 11,5% and 9,4% respectively. In total 88,2% of offshore work in the Western Cape is conducted in English, a 6,2% increase from 2013.

Financial services accounts for the highest proportion of agents at 41,7% of the market, a 0,5% increase from 2013. This is driven by a mature domestic market. Within the offshore market, telecoms is the fastest growing sector at 37,3%, a 23,2% increase from 2013.

One of the most noticeable shifts highlighted in the 2014 report is the move towards an outsourced operating environment, with outsourcers now accounting for 50% of the industry, a 6% increase from 2014.

“Globally we are seeing a definite shift towards outsourced business models, as organisations look to cut costs and improve efficiency levels within their organisation,” says Pritchard.

“The latest BPeSA Western Cape Key Indicator Report shows that 2013 was another great year for the industry. Many of the international companies based in the Western Cape expanded their operations, affirming their confidence in our destination. Our number one priority in the Western Cape is economic growth and job creation and the BPO sector provides a massive boost in this regard.

“The BPO sector employs around 40 000 people and by 2016, this figure is expected to grow to over 60 000,” says Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde.

“Going forward, there are also significant opportunities to grow the Western Cape’s market share in niche segments of BPO, such as Shared Services and Legal Process Outsourcing. This report provides an excellent analysis of the factors which make the Western Cape a leading BPO location.”

Pritchard believes that South Africa has a compelling service offering for foreign investors.

“As a location we are cost competitive, have a large English speaking talent pool, are perfectly positioned to service Europe in terms of time zones and most importantly have a cultural affinity with English speaking markets such as the UK, Australia and the US. When you add in the natural service culture of our people, South Africa is the perfect global customer service base.”