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Main Opts Out of Contact Center Outsourcing with Continued Job Growth

April 10, 2012
By Amanda Ciccatelli, TMCnet Web Editor

Main contact centers and call centers are projecting a need to hire at least 200 people in the coming months and are partnering with Wilton Career Center to find workers.  The hiring is expected at call centers specializing in everything from healthcare to technology support, giving a vital opportunity to job seekers with a range of skills.

The Morning Sentinel reported that Maine's call centers are a recent growth industry, and they have become an important employer statewide by replacing losses in manufacturing in past decades.

"People travel from all over for these jobs because they have good pay and good benefits, and when you're applying for jobs during a tough stretch, there aren't a lot of companies that offer this whole package," said Patty Ladd, who manages the career center.

Most of the projected hiring will be for entry-level call center jobs, which are full-time positions that pay between $10 and $12 per hour along with benefit packages and include health insurance.

Some area call centers plan to expand operations, and others are looking to replace workers lost through attrition and cutbacks in the past. Most Maine call centers have seen stable business growth in recent months, prompting them to reach out to the career center for help finding employees.

Ladd has been contacted by Sykes (News - Alert) Enterprises and Barclays, both of which operate their respective insurance and banking call centers in Wilton. She spoke with officials at the NotifyMD call center in Farmington that work in the medical industry, as well as T-Mobile (News - Alert) officials who operate a telephone service call center in Oakland. The career center also has partnered with two other call centers, Carbonite in Lewiston and Access Worldwide in Augusta (News - Alert). Franklin County Community College Network and the Central/Western Maine Workforce Investment are also working on the project.

Access Worldwide has about 90 call center workers in its office at 45 Commerce Drive in Augusta. It makes sales calls for the marketing company's biggest client, Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable, according to Doreen DeLancy, who handles recruitment and hiring for the call center. The call center just added 12 employees two weeks ago and plans to hire another 20 people this week. Depending on business and employee turnover, the call center expects to continue recruiting workers in the future.

People with some customer service and sales experience are strong candidates for the jobs, and those who have already worked in call centers stand out above other applicants, according to DeLancy. Some of the best sales people at the call center, however, had no experience in the field before they started at Access Worldwide, which provides training services to employees.

The number of call center jobs in Maine has remained steady over the past decade, fluctuating slightly alongside the various industries they support, said Adam Fisher, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor.

In 2002, there was an average of 8,591 call center jobs. That's nearly identical to the 8,519 average for 2011, according to the department's figures. During that 10-year period, the call center jobs average reached a high of 9,343 in 2009, the figures show.

Aside from changes in reporting, call center employment has "remained remarkably flat in spite of firms opening and closing," Fisher said. For instance, several MBNA credit card call centers closed in Maine and those jobs shifted to other call centers.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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