Tuesday 24 October 2017

We can't let this crucial business slip off the hook

Siobhan Creaton

IDA Ireland has insisted that it will continue to attract more call-centre businesses to create jobs in Ireland.

However, while companies like Zynga, Paypal and EasyLink have been drawn to Ireland this year, creating hundreds of service support positions, the key will be attracting global companies that require highly skilled staff as well as those with lower qualifications.

While call centres have traditionally handled basic customer queries, the IDA is now chasing those that need employees with language and technical skills.

Emmanuel Dowdall of IDA Ireland says it remains an extremely vibrant sector with the potential to create new jobs here.

There are more than 100 of these companies employing more than 30,000 people in Ireland. Mr Dowdall says many are "high value" jobs that will remain in Ireland for the long haul.

Call centres have come in for their fair share of criticism at times, mainly because of the low pay and often highly demanding positions they offer.

Jobs advertised in the sector offer starting salaries from as low as €19,500 and rising to between €20,000 and €30,000 for those working directly in customer support.

The attraction for Ireland has always been that they tend to be big employers, creating hundreds of jobs at a time.

They can also set up business in even the most remote parts of the country, providing jobs in communities where there were few opportunities.

Challenge

However, the same attributes make call-centre jobs highly attractive to countries in Asia. Workers earning much lower wages can be trained to answer queries in English, even if they are based thousands of miles away in India or the Philippines.

As the IDA continues to entice these businesses to come to Ireland, the challenge is to make sure they stay and thrive here.

For while it is possible to get a call centre established in most parts of the country, Talk Talk staff in Waterford have learnt first-hand how easy it is to also leave.

Irish Independent

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