Solving call centre employment challenges

The Times & Transcript ran a front page story detailing the challenges some of Moncton’s call centres are having recruiting staff.  This is an issue – a growing issue – particularly for call centres paying in the $12 to $15/hour range.   If you read the comment thread to my blog post on the Marriott closure in Fredericton you will see some interesting comments from folks seeming to be close to the issue.  Will that be the destiny for some of Moncton’s call centres?

I hope not.

I have said it before and I will say it again – if we want to keep that industry here and healthy we need to promote immigration as a source for new workers.  A few years ago I toured a handful of big call centres in Toronto – and 90% of the workers were immigrants.  And I am not talking about the “call during supper” outbound firms.  These were inbound customer service and tech support operations.

We still have a very immature view of immigration and how to align with workforce needs.

Now, there are those who will say we should let the call centre dry up and die.  They will say that the ‘good’ firms paying higher wages will stay and flourish and the rest will leave.

I don’t buy that.  Most of the firms offer decent jobs and good work environments.  A lot of folks have used these positions as springboards to promotion within the firms and outside.

And, I could name at least a half dozen immigrants in Moncton working at these facilities – and happy to be there (for the most part).


2 thoughts on “Solving call centre employment challenges

  1. I’m always a little suspicious of stories like these. If you go to monster and look at Moncton, there is only ONE job advertised in the call centre industry. So, if your company isn’t LOOKING for workers at the premiere job search site, then you really can’t complain about not being able to find somebody.

    And if people remember, ING Direct moved its call centre from Ottawa-where they said they had trouble finding staff (so don’t think immigration is the simple answer) to Moncton. They advertised for more than twenty people at one go and the job listing was closed pretty fast, so ING Direct didn’t seem to have any problem finding people.

    Its no longer possible to see the Irving rags online, so I don’t know what companies they spoke to. The one Monster job advertised didn’t say what they paid, but they were looking for a bilingual worker but it was only a contract job til christmas, and they wanted THREE YEARS of experience.

    The other thing that makes me suspicious is the fact that 10% of New Brunswick’s workforce is out of work and actively looking for a job. HUNDREDS showed up at the Alberta job fair in Fredericton. The Marriott just announced it was closing, putting at least dozens (was it hundreds?) out of work. That’s a LOT of people and if you look at the job listings online, they are still pretty thin. And that doesn’t even include the seniors or young people who are trying to get back into the workforce, or whose EI has expired.

    In short, we see constant monthly reminders of how bad unemployment is in New Brunswick, then we see articles about companies who SAY they can’t find staff. So something is VERY wrong with this picture.

    I can’t comment on the industry in general, although almost everybody I’ve spoken to has had very little good to say about a LOT of companies, but thats not to say there aren’t good ones-the Marriott people seemed pretty happy and ING has decent benefits. But they are ‘fast paced’, and that often weeds out a lot of people.

    But it wouldn’t surprise me if this article was about a ‘cluster’ of LOUSY companies who have gone through anybody who will put up with their BS and now needs more blood-and so an article like this hits Fredericton where all those people just got sacked, and suddenly they have some new blood to choose from.

    And of course there is constantly the call for more immigrants from the business sector because immigrants are far less demanding than the current workforce. They know little about labour and safety laws, and typically don’t unionize.

  2. “A few years ago I toured a handful of big call centres in Toronto – and 90% of the workers were immigrants. ”

    I wonder what percentage of those immigrants were part of a family living together that had other sources of income. $12-15/hr might be a reasonable wage but it would not be easy to live on that if you were on your own, given rental costs, etc. In order to attract immigrants, you would need enough work to keep the family going plus enough opportunity to keep them around. That could be a challenge for most urban centres in NB.

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