1691 — call centre labour shortages drive location debate

Mar 7, 2005 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

Seventy five percent of UK call centres have no plans to relocate overseas despite severe staffing difficulties, according to a survey released by OMIS Research and sponsored by Adecco. Best Locations for Contact Centres 2005 questioned over 130 call centre managers in the UK to investigate the health of ‘Call Centre Britain’ and determine future location strategies.

The Best Locations for Contact Centres 2005, assessed the concerns, attitudes and frustrations of call centre managers. The key findings were:

• Staffing crisis – 49 percent of respondents reported skills shortages. Three quarters of contact centre employers still consider workforce to be the decisive location factor
• Call Centre Britain safe – 75 percent of UK operators state they have no intention of outsourcing overseas or offshoring operations over the next five years and only 8 per cent of the operators surveyed currently outsource services overseas
• Pressure to relocate overseas growing – Another one in five is considering moving jobs abroad and nearly half of all respondents feel under more pressure to migrate operations out of the UK than two years ago
• Staffing pools empty – Only two major UK cities – Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea – can offer untapped and suitable labour supplies for contact centre operations
• Best UK location – On the basis of operators’ current requirements, Sheffield tops the ranking of Britain’s principal cities in this year’s survey, while Manchester comes bottom. Wakefield ranks top of the ‘up and coming’’ cities

The survey highlights that the UK contact centre industry appears to be at a significant point in its evolution as labour and skills shortages proliferate and the emotive ‘onshore/offshore’ locations debate intensifies. Whereas a few years ago companies were able to shortlist four or five suitable applicants for each vacancy, now candidates can have four or five job offers in the space of a week. More and more employers feel pressurised to take any workers they can get, regardless of skills or experience.

‘There simply are not enough workers to go around in most parts of the UK anymore and call centres are suffering,” said Brian McDougall, Managing Consultant at OMIS Research. “Many operators must therefore radically re-think their existing operations in the UK, such as recruitment and remuneration policies, and consider alternative means for sustaining their contact center- based activities‘.

In terms of UK locations for call centres, whilst many existing operations still remain within London, other regional locations look set to benefit from investment from this sector. Sheffield tops this years poll from the major cities while ‘up and coming’ Wakefield in West Yorkshire emerges as a clear future contender due to its wide catchment of workers, few other contact centres and low wage demands.

Kelly Bains, Director for Adecco UK and Ireland added: “Let’s not forget that ‘Call Centre Britain’ is growing not declining and in 5 years there will be many more people employed in UK call centres than there are now. As a company very close to this issue, our belief is that the reputation of the call centre industry as an employer has to improve in order to make positions more attractive to candidates. This can be achieved by better training, new flexible working policies and a greater general focus on staff retention and development



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