Premier Zille and Minister Winde Attend Launch of New Call Centre
This morning, Monday, 25 June, Premier Helen Zille and Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch a new call centre in Woodstock.
The call centre's establishment is the result of a partnership between the UK's largest mobile network operator, Everything Everywhere, and Merchants, a subsidiary of Dimension Data, and represents a significant investment in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in the Western Cape. BPO is considered a strategic growth sector of the Western Cape economy, particularly in light of its potential to create employment opportunities for youth. In collaboration with Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA) Western Cape, a Special Purpose Vehicle for the BPO sector funded by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the City of Cape Town, as well as the national Department of Trade and Industry, the Western Cape Government has been working hard to attract international investment into the Western Cape BPO sector and market the region as an investment destination of choice. The sector now employs approximately 33 500 people and is worth an estimated R7.9 billion to the regional economy.
The provincial government has ensured a specific focus on the BPO sector because it is labour-intensive, has relatively low barriers to entry and is the most cost-effective sector in creating employment, particularly for the youth as the demographic with the highest rates of unemployment. 70% of all employees in the sector are between the ages of 18 and 35 and carry only a matric, thus call centre work is an important avenue for many youth to become work-ready and gain skills and experience. Premier Zille said, "The government must understand its role in helping to roll out economic opportunities for young people. Our role is to provide infrastructure and an enabling business environment. It is to bring together partners who could make an economic sector a success because partnership drives success." She added, "The government must also facilitate skills development and stimulate skills supply in partnership with tertiary education institutions for sectors where there is skills demand."
Minister Winde said: "The BPO sector employs an estimated 35 000 staff and contributes over R7 billion to the Western Cape economy annually. In line with the Western Cape Government's number one strategic objective - creating opportunities for growth and jobs - we want this sector to grow further and create even more employment opportunities. During the 2011/2012 financial year, our target was to grow new investment for this sector by R250 million; we far exceeded our expectations and grew new investment to R1 billion. This growth bears testament to the great work done by our government in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, the national Department of Trade and Industry, BpeSA Western Cape and the private sector in making the Western Cape the choice business location destination for international companies."
When the call centre is fully operational from July, it will employ 190 staff and serve Everything Everywhere's client base of 27 million customers that use its mobile, landline and broadband telecommunications services.