With a fresh batch of fervent school leavers now recovered from their celebrations and getting down to the serious business of starting careers in the new year, all eyes are on the industries that offer ease of access to those with Grade 12 certificates.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is one such industry, having seen significant growth over recent years (as much as 25% over target in the third quarter of last year).
Contact centres, a significant chunk of the BPO industry, offer jobs and skills opportunities for school leavers.
A case in point is the recent expansion at Boomerang contact centre offices in Wynberg, Cape Town, which late last year opened up a new state-of-the-art facility comprising 400 seats.
Boomerang chief executive officer Rob Joubert said: “In investing in the expansion, we are showing our confidence in the South African value proposition, in that we can offer world class contact centre services.
“There is some proof of this, with an international client of the company recently winning a contact centre award in Europe. We are proud to be a part of that as we continue to grow our client base domestically and abroad.”
For school leavers, this expansion and the business that it invites, presents an ideal opportunity to get involved in a growth industry, and no more than a Grade 12 certificate and a good helping of enthusiasm are required to get an interview.
At the launch late last year, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said: “Job creation in Cape Town and in South Africa is a very serious and a very important issue. The call centre industry in Cape Town and South Africa, but specifically in the Western Cape, has showed huge growth.”
He added that this had provided jobs for thousands of young people.
Accompanying Plato was Councillor James Vos, the member of the mayoral committee for economic opportunities.
He was happy about the job opportunities offered in what he called the “catalytic” BPO sector, emphasising that government actively engages contact centres around the world to help local companies win contracts in this high-growth sector.
This facilitates growing the depth and diversity of the Cape economic landscape.
Vos spoke of a “skills pipeline” that would funnel young people into the industry.
“The Cape Skills Employment Accelerator Project is focused on providing skills training for the BPO sector. We believe as a city that we must train young people with the right skills for these high-growth sectors ... contact centres have seen a massive increase over past four years, with altogether 60 000 people employed in Cape Town,” Vos said..
Last year Boomerang did its part in mentoring skills. This included hosting 50 unemployed young people in an experimental six-month learning programme and training 23 employees through a 12-week leadership development course.
It also gave 260 young people a three-month exposure to the contact centre environment and skills learning programme. Graduates were offered full time employment at the company.
With the words “We don’t want a hand-out, we want a hand up,” front and centre of the national youth policy, and this being its defining year, the opportunities at Boomerang are a welcome boon.
Stats on BPO growth
According to Business Process Enabling SA, a not-for-profit organisation that actively encourages overseas investment in local business services firms, the BPO sector reported 3 531 jobs in the third quarter of last year, exceeding growth targets by 25.7%.
Together, BPO and contact centre services accounted for 41% of new jobs. That’s some doing, in an economy that is facing challenges in many quarters.
With a national unemployment rate of 29%, of which 63.4% are young people as well as a slowdown in GDP growth (contraction of 0.6% in the third quarter of last year), the economic challenges are everyone’s business.
South Africa certainly needs all hands on deck with regard to job creation.