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May 14, 2006

Only 3 of every 100 graduates pass Call Center jobs

Someone sent me a link to this old article from Manila Standard Today about me recent article on call center jobs in the Philippines.

The article mentioned that only around 3 out of 100 fresh graduates in the country are hired by call centers. The survey must have been done in 2005, where only 11,526 applicants or 2.89 percent of the total 400,000 new graduates are accepted in BPO companies and call centers.

However, the 3% mentioned here seemed misleading since there’s no way all those 400,000 college graduates applied in a call center. That means the passing rate is not actually 3% which I think is really very low. Nevertheless, it supports my previous assumption that new graduates aren’t qualified enough to make it thru the rigorous hiring process of these call center.

Is the claimed 94% literacy rate of the Philippines over-estimated? Is the world’s 3rd largest English speaking country not providing enough qualified workforce for the BPO and call center industry? I guess so.

The number one reason? Less than half (could be even way less than that) of these applicants can speak straight conversational English. It’s not just literacy we’re talking here, it’s proficiency.

I really think these call centers should lower their passing requirements and use those tons and tons of money they saved from outsourcing and invest on training new (and semi-qualified) hirees.

[tags]call center philippines, business process outsourcing[/tags]

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25 Responses to “Only 3 of every 100 graduates pass Call Center jobs”

  1. taorist says:

    Another proactive/long term option could be, that the educational system upgrade their English language teaching.

    I just recently administered a Language exam on four Grade school students with high overall marks. Just one passed–barely.

    I really hope this changes.

  2. Diong says:

    Better yet… instead of English, these companies donate(invest) to improve Mathematics and Science teaching… I’m not saying call centers are not good but imagine if majority of Pinoy “kick ass” on those two…

  3. Manas K says:

    Here, people are given call center jobs with basic english skills.

  4. JR says:

    3 out of 100….very hard to believe.

  5. Mike Abundo
    Twitter: MikeAbundo

    I’d like that number to get lower. Call centers are a brain drain.

  6. We bring in 10,000 resumes a month. We hire 1-2% of these applicants. Our standards are high.

    The good new is that if you are a good salesman, and can write a decent cover letter, you have no competition. I get only 50 of 10000 resumes with a cover letter that makes sense and has the right grammar, caps and punctuation.

    A call center cannot take a poorly qualified college grad and turn them into a proficient English speaker. Call Centers will invest in someone who has a solid foundation and only needs a 30 day refresher course.

    The schools need to do a better job.

  7. Anja says:


    everybody who is looking for a callcenter job please send me following details to and I will refer you and they will call you! We need people for english, german and french for starting this march!!!

    First Name:
    Last Name:
    College Graduate or Undrgraduate:
    Best Time To Call: AM or PM

    Do you have any sales, Customer Service or Callcenter Experience?
    Please reply asap, they are looking for people to start this March!!!

  8. angel says:


    I was once called by one of the staff of a known Call center in Makati. I was so very surprised but then suddenly become upset because once they call, you must go and attend their invitations for a “job assessment”in just one day. When I read your blog, I don’t think I gonna go there in makati just to waste my time and money, because I also read a blog that they demand a high standard. I know that there are lots of good english speaker than me and I know if I will go there, It’s a vivid “BIG COSTS” and a piece of crap!!! I decided to continue my freelance job where I earn money while at home using my skills in fast typing and data entry.

  9. About the current educational system in this country, I must admit it’s a lot of BS. I do not look down upon my countrymen, but I greatly despise this crumbling system that we have. For example, do you know that there’s lots of college students in the 1st or 2nd years who are unable to EVEN PUT A CORRECT SENTENCE in English even if it’s just like a common, day-to-day dialogue or line?

    Call centers are a temporary solution to (hopefully not) an everlasting problem with the broo-ha-has and the mockery that is the Philippine politics with our congressmen, senators and EVEN the president bickering about money like candy among children. How immature it is! How incompetence is greatly shown which is a disgrace compared to that of Korea, Vietnam and Japan!

  10. Ban Ren Guei says:

    Call centers would be a more viable long-term solution if it was easier for people to actually get into the call centers. As it is, even companies like Ascend Asia and TeleTech are very strict with their standards and a large percentage of the unemployed do not qualify the requirements to become agents.

  11. miranda says:

    Ban Ren Guei seem to have it wrong. All call centers have a certain standard for the employees they take in. I’m working for Ascend Asia right now and have gone through other call centers and it appears that their screening standards are just the same. Funny but I have been rejected by other call centers and Ascend Asia has welcomed me into their company. They offer me a good deal as compared to the other centers I’ve worked at. Where else do you see 25% night differential offered to outbound agents?

  12. Jekoy Hector Villaroman says:

    I guess it’s not always the English. I’ve applied at what I perceive to be the top call centers in the metropolis (using fancy buildings and office fixtures, number of employees, and salary as basis for my rating), and I got hired by just one call center; that job had nothing to do with taking calls.

    I believe call centers have different criteria for accepting/rejecting an applicant, and I believe some of their reasons are dumb. It’s understandable if one doesn’t pass the exam, but heck, if you reach the final interview and you’re not taken in, then something must be really wrong with that call center’s system. I’ve worked with other multinational firms (not call centers) and final interviews are done merely for formality.

    It’s really stupid to have an applicant go all the way to the final interview before being rejected. Fuckin’ waste of time for both the interviewer and the interviewee. If they don’t like your resume, then they should’ve reviewed it before even asking you to come over. That’s how dumb e-Telecare’s HR system is.

    e-Telecare even a 45K-peso bond that you have to pay if your performance for the probationary period does not meet their standards. What if it’s their training that sucks?

    I’m not exactly sour-graping. I just feel that topping my batch in the qualify written exams should have been more than enough to offset whatever they didn’t like in my resume.

  13. Sharon A. Briones says:

    Hi! I want to work as a call center agent. I even planning to enroll in a Call Center Academy herein Angeles City this coming December 6, 2007 just to
    enhance my English speaking skill and to learn courses like telemarketing/sales, American geography, etc so thatI assuremy potentialof landing acall center job here in Clark Field, Pampanga. I dont have any working experience yet as a call center but to other customer related fields like cashier/service crew so I thought that this training will be beneficial. They even promise 100% job assistance. But if this online program can help me, I will be grateful for the assistance. I hope I make myself clear and I hope that this comment will result to more positive results

  14. chichi says:

    i work in ascend and basically out of around 30 applicants per day only 2 to a max of 5 make it. and out of that percentage, around half or less would make it to the floor. so yes, we maybe small as compared to others but we choose.

  15. Kurisutaru says:

    I was a walk-in applicant in cvg last year and not expecting anything i passed. Three out of 100 probability may well apply to the screening process in the account i’m in now, i walked in around 2pm but at 7pm only 3 of us remained. All I want at first is to experience working in this industry but I’ve had it, my account is just too stressful to take. After 6 months of headache and tormenting phone calls, I’ll rest and finally take the path I really want.

    To all people planning to be in this industry, goodluck and be prepared. The minute you take your first call, you’ll realize that the call center work is not ‘chicken’nor a highschoolers job at all. As for me, I don’t ever wanna go back to this job. I don’t wanna argue with a person who isn’t responsibe enough to read his bills and as worst as talking to people with attitude problems. The only best thing I would say is that cvg is such a great company with nice and competent people. But that’s it, I’m done hehe.

  16. WWID:11XXXXXX says:

    Call Center agent, yuckers! kakabobo yan, paulit-ulit lang.. kakatamad..tas kaka.. ewan, basta dont waste your time in applying in a call center, for those newly graduates, there’s a lot opportunity outside call centers!

  17. Atasha says:

    “Call Center agent, yuckers! kakabobo yan, paulit-ulit lang.. kakatamad..tas kaka.. ewan, basta dont waste your time in applying in a call center, for those newly graduates, there’s a lot opportunity outside call centers!” — One who has never worked in a call center before will never know the complexity of this job. At some point the job may become “redundant”, but that is to those who never dream. Let us accept the fact that call centers offers “way above minimun” salaries, good compensation and benefits. Yes, newly grads may apply for other jobs and what will they get? P10,000.00 basic pay? And when will that increase? Another thing, “kakabobo yan, paulit-ulit lang.. kakatamad..tas kaka.. ewan” – isn’t this applicable to any jobs? Especially if you are no longer happy with what you are doing? I am not trying to change one’s point of view, but, if you are looking for a job that will let you send uour kids to good school, or let you pamper yourself with things that only money can buy, then you need to think twice about applying in the so-called “call centers.” =)

  18. Garry says:

    Take this for example. I was educated in the Philippine education system for the first 18 years of my life. Now having said that I am happy to tell all of you that my grammar and spelling has not been surpassed by ANY of my U.S. born colleagues. College here was a joke. When I was at Lourdes Q.C., the curriculum was so intense that when I got here, I thought the professor was kidding when he gave us our homework. I was like, “that’s it?”. Anyway, to wrap this up, I just want to say that there’s a lot to be said about the education I got in the Philippines. It prepared me for life here in the United States. Just put some effort into it and all the benefits will be yours.

  19. delta says:

    THINKING THAT CALL CENTERS SHOULD LOWER THEIR PASSING REQUIREMENTS WILL BE A FULL. Ofcourse, BPO companies wants to have a service worth their money they are investing to us, so it is just normal that call centers should make a very high passing requirements so only qualified applicants will be hired. if call centers are going to hire low profile applicants, what do you think will happen? BPO companies might loose their trust to us and might switch to another country offering call centers such as India that will give a worse result.

    the problem is, not that with the call centers having high requirements, the problem is with the applicants. they were studying since elementary and english is a part of their everyday lesson. having the fact that english is our secondary language, we must learn/use to it. it is not a scape goat that they are not providing opportunity to those who doesnt speak english so well, it is just a matter of being realistic. as a matter of fact, jobs should only be given to those who deserver it. so if you want to get the job, so work hard to get it. it is not the company to adjust for you but you are the one who should adjust for the company.

    regarding the 3% passing rate. that is not factual. you know why? let say for example we have 400,000 graduates, but the question is, are all these 400,00 graduates applied for call center? ofcourse not, maybe some of them choose to take a year of break first before finding a job, some of them went abroad, some found/applied for work on their own vertical/courses, some put up their own business and some really doesnt planned/tried applying at all to any job. meaning to say, the passing rate which according to you is a 3% passing rate is not factual, because you get the percentage out of the total graduate not considering the fact that not all these 400,000 graduates applied for call center.

    better look for more factual news than just an opinion.

    there is also no problem with the curriculum, how come even some students from our beloved country made it to NASA? big laugh huh! so it is just a matter of maximizing all the things around us.

  20. mark says:

    it’s so hard to apply in a call center company nowadays,they have many standards,for example the educational attainment. They were strict with these rule and it probably seems that your not qualified if your a mere high school graduate even you posses the competence.

  21. jen says:

    Why it has to be call centers? The pay in other industries are so low. I do not wish to be in a call center either. It doesn’t fit my personality. But it feels that I have to, because the pay in other industries are pathetic.

  22. Jun Lubrica says:

    Hi!I’m an ex OFW retiree an and in my sixty’s already.I’ve worked in Saudi Aabia for more than 20 yrs.I’m a BSME graduate.I’m still active and in state of good health, thanks to our LORD ALMIGHTY.I still feel the great urge to continue working despite my age.And I would like to apply as a CALL CENTER agent if given the opportunity.Actually,I already enrolled as Trainee in one of the training centers for Call Center agents in Quezon City.Do I still have a chance to land and qualify for a job in a Call Center business? Thanks if somebody will comment on this.

  23. mac hontiveros says:

    well,call centers are practically the last resort these days.with high unemployment rate per number of graduates,its very alarming.ive been working for a call center based in ortigas for almost 3 years now,and yet im underpaid when it comes to the number of calls per hour.its a very stressful need to be single to survive in this kind of job,coz basically,you will lose youre family.its very hard to pass an exam considering that the english language is seldom used,not unless you belong to the a or b segment of the society.

  24. GP says:

    @mac hontiveros – the english language is seldom used? a or b segment of society? It’s that kind of thinking that makes it “difficult”.

    The unemployment rate has always been high! There are simply not enough jobs in the Philippines to support the number of graduates. This has been a fact for the last twenty years!

    I’m not here to defend the call centers, but if they are a source of livelihood, I wouldn’t be complaining too much. At least they provide jobs.

    Someone was saying that, “they should lower their pass rate” – it’s their rigorous training process that weeds out the under-qualified. That’s the reason why the call centers get contracts to provide service. It’s the quality of their people. What needs to happen, is a review of the quality of education from the diploma mills. If they are churning out half-baked graduates, then that is a problem.

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