Skills shortages put pressure on UK call centres

Jan 27 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Three-quarters of Britain's contact centres plan to stay in the UK despite severe staffing difficulties. But according to a new report, pressure to locate overseas is growing.

A survey by OMIS Research and Adecco has revealed that while half of call centres in Britain are experiencing skills shortages, workforce is still the decisive location factor for employers.

But despite this, three-quarters of UK operators state they have no intention of outsourcing overseas or offshoring operations over the next five years and only eight per cent of the operators surveyed currently outsource services overseas.

But 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

Only two major UK cities - Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea - can offer untapped and suitable labour supplies for contact centre operations, the survey suggests.

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.

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.

As a result, 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 centre-based activities".

"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.