World Bank study finds strong potential for jobs in online industries for Fiji, Tonga and Samoa
SYDNEY, December 17, 2015 – The Pacific region has the potential to create thousands of jobs in the offshoring and online outsourcing and other IT-related industries, according to a new World Bank study released today.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Jobs in the Pacific has found that almost 10,000 jobs could be created across Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, with optimistic scenarios making that number as high as 27,000, representing more than 3% of GDP.
Some international companies have already been outsourcing their IT and business processes through offshoring (e.g., customer services, accounting services, data entry, programing and website design). The rise of global online job marketplaces, such as Upwork, Freelancer and Witmart, are further fueling the growth of such services-based outsourcing. Analyzing this opportunity, the study’s conservative estimates found direct and indirect job creation could be over 6,700 in Fiji alone.
Focusing on Fiji, Samoa and Tonga as a first phase in a broader Pacific review, the study found these Pacific Island countries, in particular Fiji, possess a number of competitive advantages including a labor market that is young and qualified for these tasks and positive international perceptions of the Pacific region, which lends itself to call centers and customer service tasks; competitive internet infrastructure, which is now rapidly improving in terms of speed, quality and cost; strong political support; and wage levels comparable to international norms.
“International experience has seen large countries such as India, the Philippines, but also small island countries like Mauritius, benefit from job creation in the offshore and online outsourcing and other IT-enabled industry sectors,” said Natasha Beschorner, Senior ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank. “This study shows the potential for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to tap into that market and create new and unique job opportunities that can especially benefit women and youth.”
However, international practice suggests that having the infrastructure and polices alone is not enough for these industries to grow. Therefore the report recommends a phased approach, starting with industry development pilots in a lead country—in this case Fiji, which is the only country in the Pacific region with operations currently in place.
Fiji is already showing potential. Over 1,000 Fijian jobs have been created in offshoring operations for ANZ Pacific Operations and Mindpearl and, in 2014 Fiji won the European Outsourcing Association’s Offshoring Destination of the Year Award, acknowledging its successful service to the UK and other European outsourcing markets.
“This study confirms what we’ve already known; that Fiji is a country with a strong potential for outsourcing online and customer-oriented services,” said Mark Mahoney, Commercial Director – Asia Pacific at Mindpearl. “The findings demonstrate many of the key reasons we opened operations in Fiji six years ago—friendly and customer-oriented people and a compelling cost advantage.”
Outsourcing services represent an estimated US$952 billion per year globally, with ICT for Jobs in the Pacific highlighting Australia and New Zealand as two potential ‘nearshoring’ markets for the Pacific; worth an estimated US$31 billion per year.
To download ICT for Jobs in the Pacific, visit: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/22963.