Online employment could be growth driver
Nov 07, 2012 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
While the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is one of the leading job providers in the country today, online employment can emerge as the "next big thing" since there are a million of Filipinos who are online employees.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Matt Cooper, vice president of Odesk.com, the global leader in online work, said that online employment could actually beat the BPO industry as an economic growth driver, even if it's the most unrecognized income generator at the moment.
"In 2011, 680,000 Filipinos were fully employed as call center agents, while there's 551,000 registered Filipinos in Odesk as of now," he said.
"And even if there's more supply than demand at the moment, we still we think that the demand will grow up and in five years time, we could see online work eclipsing traditional outsourcing," Cooper added.
He said that the total amount generated by Filipinos working online has reached $40 million year-to-date, and could reach as high as $50 million by yearend. Globally, online work is poised to generate an income of about $1 billion also by yearend.
"And when you think about the Philippines, 10 percent of Filipinos working overseas, and one of the beauties of the Odesk model is we bring the work to the worker rather than the worker to the work, so by giving that, one can now have the same economic opportunity, same earnings," said Cooper.
He also said that online employment could be the third largest economic growth driver in five to 10 years, next to remittances from overseas Filipinos and the BPO sector.
As for the advantages, Cooper said that, "If you work full time in ten weeks, you can actually make money that an average Filipino worker earns in a year."
Cooper is also urging the Philippine government, as well as other governments, to fully recognize the value of online employment.
"We want the government to see that this is a legitimate officially accepted way of earning," he said.
He said that for the regulatory environment, their company is addressing issues like taxation.
Odesk's emphasis right now is that if there is going to be a need to be registered to tax Filipino online workers, their company will make sure that they will take the proper steps to be compliant.
"In most countries, online working is taxable in a certain shift form, but there are some countries like Bangladesh that declared online work as technically export import and therefore, tax-free," he noted.
"There are really some countries that are much more forward thinking and they're trying to foster the growth of online marketplace," Cooper added.
He said that in the future, governments in different countries will realize how great the opportunity of online employment is.
"Some governments don't know this and some don't recognize it, but others have recognized the opportunity and are doing steps to make sure that online work has a place in the global marketplace," Cooper said.
He explained, however, that the biggest risk in online work is the execution part, since the market is very huge.
"What we're trying to do is to make it simple, straightforward, and make people commit to their online jobs," Cooper said.
But he emphasized that the good thing about online employment is employees don't have to report to an offices, because technically they could "work anywhere."
Cooper also said that Odesk is seeing 60-percent to 80-percent growth in online workers coming from the Philippines.
Cybercrime law effect
The controversial Cybercrime Law will also help in promoting online employment.
"Cybercrime law should help us and it will give an ability to enforce more action," Cooper said.
He also said that online workplaces like Odesk do not have any problems with cybercrime laws and other laws for online issues, because this would actually prove to people that online work is real and serious.
Odesk is the largest and fastest growing online workplace and has tapped 18,000 contractors from the Philippines. Also, more than half a million Filipinos are registered at Odesk.
"These contractors are a mixture of independent contractors and firms or agencies that hire workers online," Cooper said.
He mentioned that Google is one of the big companies that hire online employees through Odesk.
"Google is actually also hiring Filipino online workers registered in Odesk," Cooper added.
In the security aspect of hiring individuals, Cooper said that they have various ways of validating information and the fact that there are a lot of people working on Odesk is giving interested members a sense of safety.
Odesk is also seeing a triple digit growth by the end of the year for the 26 million hours of work registered in their site for this year alone.
"This is an increase of eight times from 2009," Cooper said.
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