VIBRANT CALL CENTRE INDUSTRY OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SCHOOL LEAVERS
Despite the prevailing economic conditions and the somewhat gloomy forecast for the job market in the short term, there are some industries which still offer enormous opportunities for school leavers and candidates who may have completed some form of tertiary education.
According to Nritika Singh, Managing Director of Isilumko Staffing, a national recruitment company which offers temporary, flexible and permanent staff, call centres form part of a burgeoning industry both locally and globally. Impressive growth figures of 39% for 2005, 41% for 2006 and 29% for 2007, have been recorded. These statistics are courtesy of the fifth Key Indicator Report produced by CallingtheCape and audited and co-produced by Deloitte. CallingtheCape was established in 2002 as a public-private partnership to develop the contact centre and business process outsourcing and offshoring (BPOO) industry. From 2003 onwards there has been a sharp growth in the number of call centres offering outsourced customer contact services and telesales, into both the domestic and international markets. Growth has been driven both by the influx of new international operations and increasing demand for customer contact centres within the South African market. The popular term ‘call centres’ has been used for the purposes of this article. “Although these findings refer to Cape Town, the statistics apply to other major cities in the country as well. Other key data which makes entry into this industry so encouraging are that the total number of call centre staff have increased from 10,014 in 2004 to 27,819 in 2007/8. This is very much contrary to the current employment trend and even the attrition rate of 17,2% for 2007/8 is only slightly up on the figure of 10,74% in 2004, which was a much more economically stable period. The South African attrition rate is low by global standards,” adds Singh. Singh continues, “Entry level salaries of between R4000-R5000 per month are extremely favourable for positions which do not require a high skills level. This excludes benefits such as medical aid, pension /provident fund or housing schemes.
Although call centres have in come quarters developed a somewhat negative connotation, the industry has been quick to provide good career guidance and ample opportunities for advancement. “What skills are required to join the call centre industry at entry level? A grade 12 pass with no particular emphasis on choice of subjects. However communicational skills and a good grasp of language, especially English, which is the preferred medium in call centres, are important attributes. Computer literacy, while not essential, is also a major benefit for candidates wishing to enter the call centre industry. “There are different levels of staffing in call centres, starting with sales agents, to assistant team leader, team leader, supervisor, call centre manager, as well as trainers and quality assessors. Other positions include telemarketers, collections and the help desk.” “Working in a call centre environment can be an introduction to better positions. One can step up the ladder quite rapidly if you show promise and display certain skills. Internal appointments are common and as a current employee you will be well positioned to follow a successful career in one of these call centres organisations. Some large financial institutions with call centres, put all their new employees in this department as part of an induction process. There has been no change in the industries employing the highest number of agents. Telecommunications, remains the leading employer, followed by retail and financial services.” Singh says that Isilumko Staffing specialises in recruiting call centre staff. The company has been successfully trading for 17 years, with branches in South Africa’s six largest cities. It has a majority black ownership, with an upper tier BBBEE rating.
Isilumko Staffing’s Legal and HR Director, Steve Katz adds, “One of the reasons for our success in the sourcing of candidates is the process of screening and interviewing that we have developed.
An internal database of a large pool of candidates with a diverse spread of employees
Effective search engines, media advertising and the up-to-date
Isilumko website to attract candidatesHeadhunting where necessary
Alliances with tertiary institutions and other agencies
Access to national Studentwise (a subsidiary company) database.”
Katz points out that Isilumko Staffing has adopted and refined the LMNOP attitude rainbow, which determines an individual’s attitude. This has been refined to match the South African labour environment. “Isilumko also makes use of the Sage Accpac CRM, which is a well-known international database management package, to effectively manage our candidate base. “These processes and measures ensure that the candidates we have available and send to our clients, are as close a match to their requirements as possible. This applies particularly to the call centre industry, where rapid growth has required positions to be filled on a regular basis,” concludes Katz. ends