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The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in Cape Town has consistently proven to be a key driver of investment, up-skilling and jobs. Between July 2018 and March 2021, the City of Cape Town, recognising the industry’s growth potential, supported it by allocating R28,5 million towards skills development and training. Read more below:

Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos and the department’s Portfolio Committee recently visited the Webhelp call centre based in the central city. The company services clients in the United Kingdom, North America, and Europe.

‘When I was given oversight over the City’s Enterprise and Investment Department in 2018, one of my main goals was to see the City of Cape Town make meaningful strides in the fight against unemployment and to stoke economic growth. We could achieve this by targeting high growth sectors such as BPO and working with our Strategic Business Partners in those industries.

‘The result is a phenomenal R3,4 billion in investments pumped into the economy in the past three years alone. The sector employs more than 60 000 people in the city, with over 17 037 of them gaining employment in the last three years.

‘CapeBPO is one such Strategic Business Partner through which we have trained and placed thousands of people. Because of this, Cape Town has made its mark as a leading hub on the continent for call centres speaking to both domestic and international markets. The numbers are proof that we are achieving our goal,’ said Alderman Vos.

Particularly notable is that the sector drove in over R1,2 billion in investments in the midst of the global pandemic.

‘This goes to show that Cape Town, despite these trying times, is still seen as one of the preferred destinations for contact centres to base their operations. As a high-performance African business hub, we are working on all fronts with investors, high growth sectors and small to medium enterprises to create the right conditions for investment and development,’ said Alderman Vos.

CapeBPO CEO, Clayton Williams, said the significant gains were the result of working closely with partners such as the City of Cape Town.

‘We have seen significant growth in our sector in the Western Cape and this would not have been possible without the support of, and collaboration between, our public sector partners (local, provincial and national) and our private sector constituents.

‘The City of Cape Town has supported not just CapeBPO as an organisation, but the broader BPO industry through both direct funding and holistic sector support. The supply pipeline to provide the necessary talent and skills to service demand is a key focus area and we are most fortunate that we have fostered genuine and functional private/public sector partnerships.  We wish to thank all involved that are creating gainful employment opportunities as well as our government partners that have committed support to our sector,’ said Williams.

The sentiment was echoed by Brandon Aitken, Chief Commercial Officer of Webhelp.

‘Despite the pandemic, we have brought eight new clients to South Africa since the start of 2020 and in doing so created 2050 South African jobs, with 1 400 of these roles coming to Cape Town. International clients from the retail sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, as well as the travel sector, have driven this exceptional growth. Looking ahead, 2021 promises to be another year of new and exciting employment opportunities for young South Africans,’ said Aitken.

With the recently launched Cape Skills and Employment Accelerator Project, the City is looking to fuel further growth. The project will direct R55 million in funds towards training, paying stipends and doing job placements in the BPO and the clothing and textile sectors.

Cape Town is the first municipality to work with the National Skills Fund to roll out this programme that will see meaningful training provided for those in the City who need it most.

‘The City designed this programme to provide skills’ pipelines for these high growth sectors and to supply trained and work-ready employees. In the Call Centre (BPO) sector, this project will train operators who will be able to work for one of many multinational companies based in the City,’ said Alderman Vos.

With this continued focus on skills development in a high growth sector such as BPOs, Cape Town and South Africa will ensure that jobs and investment are retained and expanded, and that the economy will not only recover from the global pandemic, but emerge better than ever.

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