SAN FRANCISCO — Since the early 2000’s, the Philippines has become the call center capital of the world.
Filipino workers engage in customer service and troubleshooting with people in hundreds of countries 24 hours a day.
Dr. Jan Padios of the University of Maryland, College Park decided to find out more about the call center industry through her new book, “A Nation on the Line: Call Centers as Postcolonial Predicaments in the Philippines.”
Dr. Padios says that due to cheap wages, and the fact that many Filipinos speak English — foreign companies, especially the US, have outsourced millions of jobs to the Philippines, and in turn boosted the country’s economy.
“I think a lot of the changes in the global economy have led to call center jobs being outsourced from the US to the Philippines. And the Philippines have long been a site of labor for US industries, especially US service industries.”
According to Dr. Padios’ research, Filipinos who work at these call centers have contradicting experiences.
“So one the one hand, it’s very clear that call center work is very difficult. It’s very emotionally challenging. It’s very physically challenging. People are working overnight. They are dealing with customers who are not always that friendly. And at the same time, it was very clear that people are having a lot of fun at the job, as well and making friends, and really enjoy the changes in their material circumstances.”
Dr. Padios adds that call center workers feel they may be dead-end jobs and that others do not know that the jobs are challenging.
“Just because there’s these jobs in the call center industry and because people are enjoying their job and they’re having somewhat a better quality of life in some cases, really more should be done for Filipinos to have more fulfilling forms of work and their labor to be valued as highly as possible.”
Billions of dollars in revenue are generated through these call centers — which rivals the remittances of overseas Filipino workers.
However, automation is still a threat to their jobs.