The Rise of Call Centres in Scotland
A Career in a Call Centre
Jobs in contact centres are big business in Scotland. For over the last three decades we have become one of the world’s biggest players in professional communication.
Over 90,000 people are currently employed in Scotland’s contact centre and business processing operation (BPO) sector. From banking and financial services to retail jobs in Scotland, utilities and technical support, nearly every industry has some sort of communication representation based on our shores.
Over 400 contact centres are located throughout the country, some of which are the most sophisticated call centres in Europe. Many multi-national companies choose to base their operations here which has helped the industry as a whole grow by 54 per cent since 2003.1
One of the secrets to Scotland’s call centre success lies in our language skills. Our contact centres currently offer a total of 26 languages, giving us the competitive edge in the marketplace.
Scotland benefits from a talent pool of 109,000 fluent multi-language speakers. But it is not only languages such as French, German, Italian and Spanish which are represented.
The number of workers who are able to speak Eastern European and Asian languages is continually growing, helping Scotland grow and develop its well established call centre industry.2
Investment in training and development is also taken seriously throughout the country. As the call centre industry has moved towards web, email and knowledge management Scotland has kept abreast with all the latest trade developments.
There are currently a number of training courses available at colleges throughout Scotland and plenty of accredited training schemes in place for existing contact centre employees.
This has helped to strengthen Scotland’s position within the industry and encourage both established and emerging market sectors to create a Scottish communications hub.
The majority of Scotland’s contact centres are based within the central belt. The industry’s success is so marked in this area that one in 30 of the working population here is employed in a contact centre.3
The number of workers joining the sector is also continually rising. Since 2003 around 30,000 extra people have found a job within the BPO sector – many working as Customer Service advisers,Call Handlers, Team Leaders and Trainers.
Some of the biggest employers in Glasgow include Esure, First Data , Dell and O2 while Edinburgh is home to HSBC, Standard Life and Scottish Gas.
In Stirling the Prudential Group has a sizeable BPO operation in place while Aviva, Tesco and Jobcentre Plus all have call centres based in and around the city of Dundee.
Despite the industry’s concentration in the central belt there are also plenty of centres in Scotland’s northern cities.
Outsourcing companies such as Webhelp Tsc,Teleperformance, Capita Group, Capgemini and Vertex enjoy ongoing success in areas like Aberdeen, Inverness and Dingwall.
Having a skilled and flexible workforce has certainly helped Scotland increase its influence within the BPO industry. Working in a well established telecoms industry, employees are more than capable of changing with the times.
Over 270,000 higher education students contribute to the skilled workforce and 23 per cent of Scottish contact centres have multilingual capabilities.4
Thanks to continual investment and a wealth of industry expertise, Scotland is seen as a world class player in BPO operations.
For employees themselves the industry offers plenty of career opportunities. Many workers who start off as Call Handlers steadily progress up the career ladder – training as Team Leaders and Managers.
Many of the skills honed in the BPO industry are also easily transferable into other areas of work. Nearly every employer would welcome the addition of an experienced and professional communicator into their team.
Creating a specialised working environment within the communications industry has enabled Scotland to compete very effectively on an international scale.
With support and encouragement the trade is sure to keep Scotland at the centre of call centre excellence.
1. Scottish Development International http://www.sdi.co.uk/sectors/bpo/sub-sectors/contact-centres.aspx
2. Customer Contact Centre in Scotland Report www.callcentreclinic.com/MyFiles/Files/Downloads/Scot-Locat.pdf
3. Scottish Development International http://www.sdi.co.uk/sectors/bpo/sub-sectors/contact-centres.aspx
4. SDI Key Facts http://www.sdi.co.uk/sectors/bpo/sub-sectors/contact-centres/contact-centres-key-facts.aspx