The Times & Transcript ran a front page story detailing the challenges some of Moncton’s call centres are having recruiting staff. This is an issue – a growing issue – particularly for call centres paying in the $12 to $15/hour range. If you read the comment thread to my blog post on the Marriott closure in Fredericton you will see some interesting comments from folks seeming to be close to the issue. Will that be the destiny for some of Moncton’s call centres?
I hope not.
I have said it before and I will say it again – if we want to keep that industry here and healthy we need to promote immigration as a source for new workers. A few years ago I toured a handful of big call centres in Toronto – and 90% of the workers were immigrants. And I am not talking about the “call during supper” outbound firms. These were inbound customer service and tech support operations.
We still have a very immature view of immigration and how to align with workforce needs.
Now, there are those who will say we should let the call centre dry up and die. They will say that the ‘good’ firms paying higher wages will stay and flourish and the rest will leave.
I don’t buy that. Most of the firms offer decent jobs and good work environments. A lot of folks have used these positions as springboards to promotion within the firms and outside.
And, I could name at least a half dozen immigrants in Moncton working at these facilities – and happy to be there (for the most part).