The most difficult column I have written by far is that of Ilocos Norte-based call centers that sell—in ways deceptive and malicious—porn sites, for I knew it would create a stir and would affect the livelihood of those involved in the trade. I would not have done the exposé, but no one else, not even colleagues in the media, seemed inclined to do it, so I performed my moral obligation as writer and well-meaning citizen. I wrote about the subject, but only after a great deal of thought and soul-searching, on top of my exhaustive research. It was in August last year.
An investigation was conducted by the police after the matter was tackled in the city council. Radio and TV stations also picked up the issue, thus taking off a lot of weight from my shoulders. I could have written follow-up articles, I did not. It was enough that I brought the issue out in the open. And I was already receiving threats on my safety.
I never learned about the results of the investigation, but I did know that these businesses slowed down and that some agents lost their jobs as a result. For their part, parents who learned about these shady activities ordered their children to quit their jobs in these call centers. It saddened me, but such sadness was mitigated with a strong hope that these establishments will eventually handle only decent accounts and, ergo, provide only decent jobs to our people, especially the young.
On March 31, while I was in the circus of computing grades, distributing class cards, and being chased by those who got red marks, I chanced at a mini job fair conducted by Kinetic Human Division at the MMSU Batac Campus. I was happy when I saw their staff interviewing our students. I learned that they offer a lot of job openings today, and that business is booming.
I had no doubts whatsoever that they offer today only clean jobs, jobs that our students and graduates can be proud of, learn from, and earn enough from. I know that KHD, Laoag’s largest BPO (business process outsourcing) firm, has learned from past’s lessons and is training its sights on a future so bright.
I got the chance to talk to Ms. Ethel Saliendra, human resource officer of KHD, who initially looked startled to see me around. She requested for a talk with me though, and I took it as a good opportunity to explain to her why I wrote what I wrote last year. All is water under the bridge now, I said, and that I was happy to see that things are looking up. We eventually warmed up to each other. Ms. Ethel disclosed that they have a lot of accounts in their hands today. “Kami na nga ang umaayaw e.” They could even expand, she said, if only there is enough supply of manpower. At present, they need around 200 employees, mostly voice agents, but they are having difficulty getting qualified employees, given Ilocanos’ thick regional accent, which, however, can be neutralized with proper training. KHD has enough floor space and equipment, but is currently wanting in manpower.
Aside from Customer Service Representatives (voice agents), the list of job openings also includes Chat/E-mail Support Agents, Text Data Entry Associates, IT Assistants, Web/Graphic Designers, Php/MySQL Specialist, Search Engine Optimizer, Media Manager, Project Manager
Writers (SEO), Programmers, and VPN Technical Supports.
Please don’t ask me, dear karikna, what MySQL, SEO, and VPN mean. I am just as clueless as you could get. Ms. Ethel raised the concern that some schools today may be using outdated curricula which do not include, among others, these strange acronyms, and so their graduates are likely not equipped with the needed skills and competencies.
It’s good then that KHD is an active player in the Metro Ilocos Norte ICT Council (MINICT), which gathers government, business, and the academe for the promotion of Information and Communication Technology. Businesses like KHD can then provide inputs to universities on how education can be made more responsive to the needs of the indutsry. Governor Imee Marcos herself is honorary chair of MINICT, with MMSU President Miriam Pascua as presiding chair.
I trust KHD enough on their job openings today that I am encouraging my own students and relatives to go and try their chances there. The minimum requirements include: basic computer knowledge, excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, experience in sales/ telesales/telemarketing (preferred but not required), knowledge in Microsoft Office Applications, flexibility and the ability to learn quickly, and willingness to work in the beautiful city that is Laoag.
Interested applicants are asked to submit their resume at Kinetic Human Division, Inc., 2/F Jomell II Bldg., P. Gomez St., Brgy. 23, Laoag City, and look for Ms. Ethel, telephone Number: (077) 770-40-45, mobile phone no. 09088941921, email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around 150 individuals are in the employ of KHD today, an additional two hundred are waiting to be hired, and even more jobs are expected to be created as further expansion is expected soon. Indeed, things are looking up for this call center located in front of Bishop Sergio Utleg’s Palace.
New beginnings. Fresh starts. Second chances.
I am smiling, dear karikna, as I write this.