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CCMG world of work: promoting career development within the contact centre industry

25 May 2016 Innovation Group

Statistics released by the South African Department of Basic Education in March 2015 puts the total number of pupils enrolled at public and private schools across the country in 2013 at just over 12 million. The total number of Grade 12 learners totalled just over 4.5 million. That is 4.5 million new job seekers and prospective recruits with most unsure which direction to move in to or what the ideal career entails.

Bearing this challenge in mind, “One of the Contact Centre Management Group’s (CCMG’s) core focus areas are to ensure that they create a platform to promote the professional development of careers within the Contact Centre Industry,” says Barbara Knight, Board Member from CCMG.

Considering a career in Contact Centres, or “Telemarketing” as it was previously know, does not seem to top the list of many new recruits due to the negative stigma attached to the industry. Most view this as an industry and career with long hours and relentless targets and no real opportunity for growth or development. Somewhere between graduation and recruitment there seems to be a very real disconnect and lack of information and awareness about the Contact Centre industry and the services that it provides.

Addressing this negative stigma and raising the bar for the Contact Centre industry is a challenge that the CCMG and award winning Contact Centre provider, Innovation Group committed to tackle head on.

“The CCMG World of Work initiative aims to expose learners to an authentic contact centre environment and to create an awareness of the career options and support services that are available within the different streams of business namely human resources, administration and operations to analytics, finance, IT, marketing, sales and even management,” expressed Knight.

The CCMG partnered with local contact centre provider, Innovation Group, and hosted 15 learners from Matla Combined School on 30 and 31 March 2016 during the school holidays to ensure that the curriculum and planned teaching was not disrupted.

The learners were eagerly transported from their school by Innovation Group and were offered the opportunity to experience the life of an employee, whilst learning about the inner workings and career opportunities within the contact centre environment. The hope is to instil eagerness in the students and to show them the very real careers to consider and to encourage the educators to endorse corporate employment as a life trajectory, particularly in Contact Centres.

Both the CCMG and Innovation Group dismiss the negative stereotype surrounding the Contact Centre industry. “Contact Centres and their roles have evolved significantly over the past decade,” comments Liz Willson, Assistant Executive for In-Touch at Innovation Group.

“A lot more focus is being placed on agent development, coaching and general employee wellbeing. At Innovation Group, we understand the daily pressures faced by our agents, which is why we offer an on-site gym, canteen as well as access to a contracted wellness provider. This allows our employees to look after their personal wellbeing whilst at work.”

“We also invest quite heavily in training and development. This ensures that our agents have the necessary tools and resources to perform their duties and it also allows them to further their career within the Contact Centre,” states Willson.

“Innovation Group was a natural partner for us due to the dynamic growth environment and forward thinking in terms of their retention strategy,” says Knight.

“The CCMG World of Work Project provided learners with an authentic learning experience where they were expected to actively participate in group discussions and complete a portfolio of work with targeted questions that focused on functional requirements of each area; the set-up of a call centre environment; entry level salaries and company benefits; roles and responsibilities and department dependencies to name a few.”

“This challenged their interpersonal communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills, a daily skill which is used within the contact centre environment. This will assist learners to develop strong work ethics, understand and manage diversity challenges and communicate assertively in achieving working goals which will complement their requirements for success in their matric year,” concludes Knight.

Knight believes that corporate organisation can play a huge role in creating a realistic environment for prospective matriculants, this will allow the learners to understand the dynamics that play out during an interview process, and the business acumen that is required.

Willson articulated that together with the CCMG they have committed to providing structured support and ongoing coaching to the learners and the educators in order to ensure that they have a strong sense of commitment and support, one of their qualities that they value as an organisation.

The opportunities from the World of Work initiative are endless as this creates a platform for the learners to enter the contact centre market. The CCMG have committed to enter the names of participating students in their database and where learners display a high level of work ethic and successful completion of the portfolio, they may enter into Learnership opportunities in 2017, should they become available.

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