The Western Cape call centre industry has shown strong signs of growth over the past year creating about 3,400 jobs and contributing close to R9bn to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP.)
According the 2014 key indicator report released on Thursday by Business Process enabling SA (BPeSA) Western Cape, the call centre industry serves as a sustainable source of employment for the province, with 86.2% of agents being employed on a permanent basis, a 4.7% increase from 2013.
BPeSA Western Cape is the regional association for companies operating in the business process service and outsourcing industry in the province. It operates as a specialist investment promotion agency for business process outsourcing, including contact centres as well as a trade association and networking body.
Business process outsourcing, of which the call centre industry is a major part, involves a company contracting the operations and responsibilities of specific business functions, such as customer-related business and administrative functions, to a third-party service provider.
The fifth Industrial Policy Action Plan has identified the call-centre sector as one of the key focus areas where significant domestic capacity and opportunities exist, together with other sectors such as clothing, textiles, leather and footwear.
According to the 2014 indicator report, the UK market is responsible for 63.3% of offshore business in the Western Cape, a 1.9% increase from 2013. About 88% of offshore work in the Western Cape is done in English, a 6.2% increase from 2013. The financial services sector accounts for the highest proportion of agents in the industry at 41.7%, a 0.5% increase from 2013, with retail at 14.9%, a decrease of 10%, and telecommunications at 12.5%, a 2.7% increase from 2013.
The 2014 indicator report states that the Western Cape’s infrastructure is world class, from roads and power through to education, healthcare and entertainment, making it an easy place to conduct business.
"The province is well positioned to service the European market in terms of similar time zones. It is also strategically located to provide 24/7 customer support services for US and Australian companies," the report says.
The Western Cape government aims to create an additional 10,000 call-centre seats within three years. Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said that 2013 was another great year for the industry with the arrival of international business process outsourcing company, the Webhelp Group, building on the list of global outsourcers already operating out of SA. This was in addition to large scale expansion from the majority of international outsourcers in the province.
"In the Western Cape, our number one objective is economic growth and job creation. The business process outsourcing and offshoring industry is one of our most important growth areas, delivering a massive job creation boost among the youth, the demographic with the highest unemployment rate," Winde said.
Gareth Pritchard, CEO BPeSA Western Cape, said that in total, it is estimated that the Western Cape region is now responsible for approximately 41,000 jobs, contributing about R9bn to the Western Cape’s annual GDP. He said 3,400 jobs were generated in the last year through foreign direct investment alone.
"The job growth within the offshore sector has once again been driven by investment from leading international brands such as Amazon, Asda, British Gas, EE, Lufthansa, 02, Shell, Shop Direct, Swiss International, along with a growing list of global outsourcers," Pritchard said.
He said that with an influx of foreign direct investment in recent years, BPeSA realised the importance of having a large skills base to match the demands of the industry.
"In response to this, we are in the process of implementing a skills strategy which will look to train more than 10,000 agents and 1,600 team leaders over the next three years," Pritchard concluded.
[Source: Business Day]