Prudential UK call centre losses are ‘tip of iceberg’

Prudential’s decision to cut 850 of its UK call centre jobs and transfer the
work to India is only the tip of the iceberg according to a report out today.

The study by the world’s largest recruitment company Adecco, predicts 25,000
UK call centre jobs will be lost in the next 12 months as companies relocate
these services abroad.

The report, Best Location For Contact Centres, based on responses from 147
organisations operating call centres in the UK, states: "The biggest
international threat to the UK’s contact centre industry is felt to come from
India, with nearly 60 per cent of respondents mentioning this emerging market
as a possible place to relocate."

Kelly Bains, Adecco call centre development director, said although many
jobs will be lost abroad, the UK call centre market is also predicted to grow
with an estimated 200,000 new jobs being created over the next five years.

Insurance giant Prudential’s job losses, announced last week, will reduce
the number of staff at the firm’s Reading operation to 1,400. Restructuring
will cost the company £20m by the end of 2004, but this will be offset by
annual cost savings of £16m from 2006.

Most of the savings will come from lower wage costs.

Matthew Starks, HR director of operations at Prudential, said the redundancies
were all compulsory, but will be staggered over two years.

He said the call centres in India will be able to provide top quality
service for the Prudential’s customers.

"We are only recruiting graduates and the staff are of a high
quality," he said.

Starks said the experience of many other companies, including a large number
of US firms, shows that call centres can be run from India successfully.

Starks stressed that Prudential is not outsourcing the work. He explained
that the Indian workers will all become Prudential employees, and this will
reinforce the company’s branding.

By Quentin Reade

Best perceived locations in the UK for call centres

Harrogate is the best location for a
call centre in the UK, research by recruitment agency Adecco reveals.

The 147 major call centre operators whose opinions were
canvassed list the most important factors for location as workforce
availability, suitability, flexibility, and retention.

Attrition rates are also seen as key. More than a fifth of
operators are managing annual churn rates of above 40 per cent, with nearly a
quarter losing most of these staff within only six to 12 months of them joining.

The perceived best locations for call centres in the UK are, in

– Harrogate

– Fareham

– Dunfermline

– Crewe

– Gateshead

– Warrington

– Doncaster

– Northwich

– Cheadle

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