Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Questions (33)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

33. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the way employment levels in the call centre industry can be protected and enhanced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33571/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The customer contact industry continues to be an invaluable source of employment creation from multinational companies locating in Ireland across a range of industry sectors including finance, IT, life sciences and e-commerce. As an increasingly important component in the way companies differentiate themselves, the customer contact centre has evolved into a multi-functional, multi-lingual environment, which adapts new digital technologies at an early stage to service a global customer base.

According to the Contact Centre Management Association of Ireland (CCMA) who published the findings of its research into the role of contact centres throughout Ireland in 2011, the sector employs more than 29,000 people, with a spread of over 100 contact centre operations nationwide. The CCMA findings show very positive results against the backdrop of a challenging economic climate and emphasise a focus on growth and business retention within the sector.

IDA Ireland continues to seek to attract customer support companies to locate in Ireland as part of its overall strategy to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). This strategy has proven to be successful and Ireland is now home to a broad range of companies based in different industries servicing multiple markets. Examples of such companies include, Google, Facebook, Lufthansa, Cook Medical, Hertz, EMC, Merrill Lynch, EA Games and Riot Games. Recent announcements by Paypal and Zenimax further endorse the successful strategy being pursued by IDA Ireland.

The Irish owned Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, which is a sub sector of the services industry and involves the provision and management of non core processes and services by third parties under contract, grew out of customer management activities. This sector is now growing through the provision of specialist services to meet specific market needs in regulated and compliance driven sectors, including finance and administration, HR services and Public Sector outsourcing. Within customer management, the Irish sector is developing a strong position in the multilingual sub-sector. There are over 6,000 people employed in Enterprise Ireland supported companies who had total sales and exports of over €180m and €60m, respectively in 2012. Growth in the past 3 years has been driven by Irish companies supplying multi-lingual tech and financial services support to the overseas divisions of multinationals and growth in services to the Irish banking and public sectors.

The Irish BPO sector provides significant opportunities to both maintain and expand employment based on securing business opportunities, both domestically and in export markets. Enterprise Ireland is working with client companies to identify and pursue opportunities identified in the public sector and with the base of multinational companies operating in Ireland. The Agency is also supporting clients to access export markets, specifically the UK, in specialised niche market sectors such as the public sector, insurance and other financial services.

Enterprise Ireland is working with BPO Companies to:

- Develop technology platforms, specifically in the areas of Cloud Computing and Data Analytics, which are currently the two main drivers of technological change in the global BPO market.

- Ensure that they can compete in key areas such as sales and marketing, data analytics and advisory capacity.

- Assist them in building the best management teams and service innovation capability in the industry.

- Given Ireland’s strengths in terms of technology, skills and existing base of companies, to continue to develop our offering in terms of knowledge intensive services. These services require high levels of expertise in the industries they service combined with sophisticated customer interaction and decision making.

- Support a cluster development project for 13 BPO companies to investigate the potential opportunity in overseas markets.

In accordance with the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, Enterprise Ireland and IDA are committed to working together to put in place a joint strategy to further establish Ireland as the best location in Europe from which to deliver complex, added value services. The vision for the Irish owned sector is to have a competitive BPO sector with companies of international scale which will result in continued increased employment growth in Ireland.