Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
More than 60% of contact centre managers are expecting a shortage in skilled staff over the next few years, a new report has found. That’s in an industry with 100,000 vacancies a year, with an employment appetite second only to mining.

The report – Looking to the future: The 2013 Contact Centre Trend, Salary and Leadership – reveals that 25% of managers are already facing skill shortages and 61% believe that a key mid-long term trend will be difficulty recruiting the right people with the right skillset.

Publisher of the report, FuturePeople CEO Linda Simonsen says the industry needs to be proactive about attracting and developing contact centre staff in order to prevent a major skills shortage in the future. This is particularly important as contact centre roles become more complex and the gap between customer expectations and agent skills increases.

The report shows that 40% of contact centre leaders identify enhanced skills across multiple channels as the number one way in which agent skillsets will need to change and that 87% of contact centre managers believe emotional intelligence-related skills will be the defining characteristic of long-term contact centre staff.

“While it’s important to note that multi-channel skills and soft skills like emotional intelligence can in fact be taught, meaning existing staff can learn these new skills, of course it would also be ideal if we could attract and retain people who are naturally high in emotional intelligence and multi-channel skills.

“To do that, however, the industry has a few hurdles to overcome,” Simonsen says.

Simonsen believes the Australian contact centre industry needs to market itself better to new recruits, as well as provide tangible career development options to existing agents.

“Give them a clear career development plan,” she says. “And we could start offering a role that’s so attractive to the country’s best and brightest that it makes them want to really stick around.”
 
The report also shows that only 37% of contact centre managers recruit agents with a view to keeping them in the contact centre over the long term, and only 28% of managers test for leadership ability during the recruitment process.

However, rather than being a mere stepping-stone to the larger organisation, Simonsen believes agents should be encouraged to stay longer and to develop broader and deeper skills.

Looking to the Future: The 2013 Contact Centre Trend, Salary & Leadership Report shares the insights of Australian contact centre managers and staff around the country who were surveyed in mid-2013. The report is available free here.

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skilled staff shortage, careers, call centre recruitment

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