The UK contact centre workforce now stands at 867,000 agents, representing over 3.1 per cent of the UK working population and this figure is expected to rise over the next six months, with 43 per cent of contact centres anticipating a need to increase the number of call handlers. This is a major conclusion of a survey carried out by e-skills UK to 800 UK contact centres. The report also suggests that, despite the increase in size of the workforce, competitiveness and future growth are threatened by recruitment issues, staff retention and skills gaps.
“The size of the contact centre workforce shows the strategic importance of the industry to UK productivity while continued projections of growth in the number of workers in the sector suggest a vibrant future for the sector,” said Andrew Palmer, Sector Lead for Contact Centres at e-skills UK. “We must focus on ensuring that the workforce has the right skills, drive and motivation to deliver exceptional levels of customer service and be competitive on a global scale.”
The survey reveals that 35 per cent of contact centres reported vacancies for staff, with 11 per cent experiencing recruitment difficulties. The most common cause of these difficulties amongst new entrants is a lack of skills in communication, using technology/contact centre systems and customer care.
The report cites that 32 per cent of contact centre staff lack the type or level of skills to meet business objectives. As a result of this the industry is committed to training to upskill the existing workforce and improve retention levels. 91 per cent of contact centre professionals receive some form of training, with induction courses being made available to 71 per cent of all new recruits. Additionally, 24 per cent of contact centres claim they will be increasing the amount spent on training per head over the next six months.
Other key findings:
· 56 per cent of the contact centre workforce is female, 44 per cent is male.
· 51 per cent of the workforce is under 34 years old , compared to a UK average of 34 per cent.
· 72 per cent of the workforce is employed on a permanent, full-time basis.
· 83 per cent of the workforce is employed in an advisor/experienced advisor role (65 per cent in a customer service role, 18 per cent in a sales role).
· 35 per cent of the workforce is located in the North of England with 21 per cent in the Midlands/East of England, 21 per cent in Wales/The South West, 19 per cent in London and the South East and 4 per cent in Scotland.
E-skills UK is the Sector Skills Council for IT, Telecoms and Contact Centres, With responsibility for the Contact Centre skills base e-skills UK brings together employers, educators, government and other stakeholders to deliver a range of sustainable projects allied to the strategic skills priorities of the sector. e-skills UK has developed the Contact Centre Career and Skill Framework to enable contact centres to manage and develop the skills of their workforce. The framework aims at clarifying the complex mix of competencies required within contact centres, identifies the competencies needed at each career level and contributes to the development of training programmes.
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