Call Centers to the Rescue
September 28, 2011
By Nicole Edry
, TMCnet Contributor
In today’s economy, we have an excess of debt and a shortage of stability. With unemployment at an all-time high, peoples’ confidence is wavering. Everybody is wondering if a) we’ll get out of this recession and b) if there’s any such thing as job security. Just in time for the holidays, some hope is coming from an unexpected place: call centers. Actually, in multiple sources naming the top ten careers for job security, telecommunications expert and customer service representative both make the cut, alongside pharmacists, judges and college professors.
It’s a running joke, both in the real world and Hollywood. Take Transformers, or 40-Year-Old Virgin for example. You have trouble with X product, you call the hotline for information, and eventually end up speaking with an Indian or Asian worker. Miscommunication ensues, hilarity happens. While it may seem funny, job outsourcing has become a pretty serious problem for the average American. Many argue that companies should bring jobs back here, and do their part to help fix our financial problems.
At the end of the day, it’s not only economics but also politics. 32 major corporations are urging Congress to make trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. This may seem unrelated, but Public Citizen (a public interest group) studied their job records and “found that 18 of the 32 outsourced at least 18,600 American jobs to other countries since 2001 thanks to prior free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” These are USA titans like GE and Dow Chemical, corporations that we’d much rather have creating jobs here. In ten years, that is a staggering number of jobs, and these statistics just represent 18 of the major corporations. Imagine if we had the data from all of them. Will anybody step up to the plate?
IBM (News - Alert) and Macy’s have decided that they are going to pick up the slack. As of Monday morning, IBM is adding 175 jobs, and Macy’s is adding 78,000 seasonal workers. Both companies specified that most of the additions would be based in call centers, with some part time and other jobs mixed in. IBM’s additions are in Delaware, as the state has offered tax incentives and other benefits in an effort to promote job creation. Macys doesn’t really need the same incentives as they have actually been doing better than last year, with a 4.9 percent sales growth and very healthy quarterly sales figures.
Lest you think just the big name corporations are showing the holiday spirit, meet Joe Burmester. Along with his business partners, he is the creator of Ruralogic, a startup IT company. With about 60 employees, his status as a power player might not be huge, but his actions are no less generous. In his own words, he wants to return outsourced jobs from India and the Philippines back to local call centers. Last year, the government awarded him substantial job-creation tax credits for 3 communities in Delaware. With plans to create up to 121 jobs per community, in addition to the 15-20 currently training, Burmester is doing more than his share to jumpstart his regional economy. And it doesn’t stop there. “We are really close to landing two projects with an internationally known investment banking firm that would give us an opportunity to add another 75 or 100 jobs in a relatively short period of time.”
Ultimately, there is no quick fix or easy button that will get us back on track. Our problems are too severe to be solved anytime soon, and that’s the unpleasant truth. However, the silver lining is starting to emerge. As long as companies like IBM, Macy’s and Ruralogic continue to put themselves out there and inspire job creation, then maybe all is not lost. We now have to trust that other players in the business world will follow their example.
Edited by Jennifer Russell