HUNDREDS of people flocked to Sunderland’s new Software Centre for the chance to snap up call centre posts.
The annual Contact Centre Recruitment Day, organised by Sunderland City Council, attracted representatives from centres including Barclays, npower, 2Touch, and UKAR, looking to fill more than 400 vacancies in total.
The event gave jobseekers the chance to have an informal chat with contact centre staff, to find out what roles are available, whether their current skills are suitable and, if not, what training options are open to them.
Team manager Eddie Hetherington was at the event on behalf of Doxford International-based 2Touch.
“There has been a very good turnout,” he said.
“It is that successful that they opened the doors about 15 minutes early. You could see people queuing down past the window.”
He said there had been quality as well as quantity.
“We have had people who already have call centre experience and some who haven’t but are showing that little bit of enthusiasm,” he said.
“Sometimes you speak to people and they really don’t seem bothered but everybody today really seems to want to get back into work.”
Deputy council leader Councillor Harry Trueman said that yesterday’s event looked set to top the 750 who attended last year.
“I am hoping we get more than last year and it looks from the early attendance as though it is more,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to one or two people from the call centres who say the Sunderland accent is particularly well received by people when they ring up on the telephone.
“They love the way we talk.”
The contact centre industry is one of the city’s biggest sectors, employing around 10,000 people and worth more than £150million a year for Sunderland’s economy.
MUM-OF-TWO Jill Hendry got the chance to see this year’s call centre event from the other side of the desk.
Forty-three-year-old Jill, from Herrington Burn, landed a job with npower after signing up last year and is looking forward to working with a fresh intake of new starters.
“I was contacted about two weeks after the event,” she said.
“I was invited in on the Wednesday, had a face-to-face on the Thursday, found out I had got the job on the Friday and started on the Monday.
“I am so glad I did it. I am now a mentor for new trainees who are coming through just like I did a year ago.
“I had had lots of customer care experience in the past, but it really doesn’t matter if you haven’t, because you get lots of training and there is so much support, even when you get out on the call centre floor.”
NICKY Aslam is desperate to get back into work after four years without a job.
The 42-year-old, who previously worked in a Royal Mail contact centre, said: “I just want a job. It has been a long time.
“It has got to be a call centre job for me. It is one of the best jobs you can do.”
Twenty-year-old Karajade Robinson is looking for a career rather than just a job.
Karajade, who was at the event with mum Andrea Johnson, 39, already has a job, but wants something with more prospects.
“At the moment I am working in a hairdresser’s, but I want something that offers a bit more,” she said.
“My auntie saw this event advertised, so I thought I would come down.
“I have never worked in a contact centre before, but I have plenty of experience dealing with customers.
“I am on the phone all the time.”