While they say it is unfortunate that 1,800 people lost their jobs, local contact centres are viewing the recent Dell and Sitel layoffs as a chance to add some top local talent to their rosters.
Gary Hannah, chair of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI), said it is important for Ottawa companies to hire those newly unemployed workers quickly before they move to other cities and their expertise is lost locally.
“If (workers) see the business community rallying to do something before they get bummed out, that’s going to be a big boost,” said Hannah, who is also president and CEO of Pronexus. “We’re a small company … and I couldn’t afford to train them like they are (trained) coming out of those organizations.”
To help companies find Dell’s newly displaced employees, the Ottawa Regional Contact Centre Association organized a technology job fair yesterday Scotiabank Place.
“I don’t think we’ve ever experienced the magnitude of the people who are actually out of work at one time in our industry,” said ORCCA chair Sandra Freeman. “A lot of effort and time was spent training agent and team leaders and our industry doesn’t want to lose all those skilled worker to other industries.”
Amal Hassan worked her last shift at the Dell call centre at the end of April. At the career fair yesterday, she said recruiters were enthusiastic about her training and skills, and it gave her hope she’d find another job quickly.
Having such a large pool of displaced, skilled workers from which to draw has caused some companies to re-examine their business model.
Heather Graham, vice-president of Circumference Technology, which specializes in call centre technologies, said they’re considering expanding to take advantage of the one-time rash of top expertise that’s flooding the city market.
“We sort of started thinking ... that we might want to look more into technical support, since there is a surplus of employees around,” she said. “We might as well pick them up and offer more service in that area.”
She said Circumference is looking to add around five employees to their 20-person contact centre staff.