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Contact centres set for long term success

Date 5 Oct 2006
Author Tyne and Wear Development Company
Tyne and Wear Development Company

The achievements of one of the region’s leading industries will be recognised next month at a prestigious awards ceremony.

The fourth annual North East Contact Centre Awards will take place at the Stadium of Light, on November 3, celebrating the accomplishments of companies and employees working in the sector.

Contact centres now employ more than 40,000 people across the North East and have quickly become key players in the regional economy in recent times. Major names such as EDF Energy, Barclays and Northern Rock all have bases here.

The success of the region’s contact centre industry is based largely on its highly skilled workforce, with North East contact centres winning recognition across the world for excellent productivity and the work ethic of employees.

It is a reputation that continues to generate new jobs throughout the region. Last year Barclays created 250 jobs in Sunderland, while GE Money has created over 500 jobs at its new contact centre at North Tyneside’s Cobalt Business Park. Figures from One NorthEast suggest jobs in the industry will grow by 14 per cent in 2007.

Paul Buie, manager of Tyne and Wear Development Company, which organises the Contact Centre Awards, said: “Contact centres have been a major plus for the regional economy and many of our local operations are recognised as industry leaders.”

The North East Contact Centre Awards 2006 will acknowledge these achievements. First held in 2003, the awards have quickly become established as one of the key dates in the industry calendar and feature 10 separate prizes including the coveted Contact Centre of the Year Award.

Paul added: “North East contact centres have been incredibly successful and it’s important that these achievements are properly celebrated. The awards are certainly doing that and are very popular among employees working in the sector.”

In spite of recent success, however, the industry is far from resting on its laurels – a concerted effort is being made to plan for the future.

Next March will see the inaugural North East Contact Centre Conference, which will bring decision makers, senior managers and team leaders from across the industry together with business development agencies.

Among the objectives of the conference will be the development of a strong network of contact centre professionals, sharing of best practice and discussions on the future image and profile of the industry.

Training opportunities and skills development will also feature on the agenda – something contact centres are already working hard to achieve. A strong training and development network has been established in the region, headed by the City of Sunderland College’s North East Contact Centre Academy, based on Doxford International Business Park. Accredited as a Centre of Vocational Excellence for the region, the Academy aims to raise the profile of contact centre careers by providing professional training from introductory level for new recruits through to management training for those aspiring to career progression.

The Academy is also supporting this year’s North East Contact Centre Awards and, as well as presenting an award, is offering free places on its Foundation Degree in Service Management to the runners-up and winner of the Inspirational Leader category. The aim of this course is to equip students with the combination of technical skills, academic knowledge and transferable skills demanded by employers at intermediate and higher levels.

Paul added: “The contact centre industry is increasingly competitive globally, which is why employers in the North East are placing such a strong emphasis on training and skills development. Ensuring employees are equipped with the best possible skills will help our contact centres remain at the forefront of the industry.”

The North East Contact Centre Awards are sponsored by Sunderland City Council, Tyne and Wear Development Company, One NorthEast, Adecco Recruitment Services, North East Contact Centre Academy, Kelly Services, Pertemps, IT Campus, Contact Centre Professional and North East Employer Coalition.

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