The past few months have been particularly rewarding for us in taking our long standing partnership with the regional Ministry of Social Development (MSD) office into new grounds of preparing this regions potential workforce for employment in contact centre environments.
Drawing on the experiences of introducing contact centres to economically depressed regions in South Wales and the interventions to prepare the local population to take up the challenge of very different work in very different environments, we worked with MSD and the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) to deliver preparation training for people currently receiving a benefit and assessed their suitability as quality contact centre candidates.
In region where the bulk of job losses have been within manufacture, processing and infrastructure sectors, the switch to contact centre work is not an obvious next step for those affected by recent redundancies. In addition to those made redundant through recent closures, the region has a significant number of unemployed people with strong admin and customer service skills, yet commitments outside of work that limit the number of jobs with ‘traditional’ working hours that they can apply for.
EIT and MSD ran a series of 3-week practical workshops to prepare groups of 20 participants for contact centre employment, as well as how to make successful applications. We assisted in their job application sessions and ran Contact Centre Candidate Assessments on all participants towards the end of their workshops to gauge likely individual and group performance in the job. The success rate of participants receiving job offers was rewarding, with five participants being offered a job in one day on one occasion and a steady stream of interview invitations throughout.
At a time when the performance of MSD and WINZ have been put under scrutiny, this was a success story that the press struggled to comprehend, but is getting people back into the workforce and will continue to do so.